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Liner Notes for Samurai Films

13 Assassins Liner Notes --
General Info: Eiichi KUDO's SAMURAI REVOLUTION TRILOGY revolutionized the samurai film by focusing on realism, long hand-held camera sequences, and large group battles. The three films, 13 ASSASSINS, THE GREAT KILLING, and ELEVEN SAMURAI are acknowledged classics of the genre. AnimEigo is proud to be a part of their first North American DVD release.
Bushido - The Cruel Code of the Samurai Liner Notes --
Bushido, a.k.a. “The Way of the Warrior” is the chivalrous code of the samurai that has influenced the Japanese way-of-life for centuries. This epic film spans several generations of a typical samurai family, and illustrates the intricate system of loyalty, honor and sacrifice which bound the samurai in ages past, and which, in many ways, persists to this very day. Winner of the Golden Bear award at the 1963 Berlin International Film Festival.Bushido, a.k.a. “The Way of the Warrior” is the chivalrous code of the samurai that has influenced the Japanese way-of-life for centuries. This epic film spans several generations of a typical samurai family, and illustrates the intricate system of loyalty, honor and sacrifice which bound the samurai in ages past, and which, in many ways, persists to this very day. Winner of the Golden Bear award at the 1963 Berlin International Film Festival.
Eleven Samurai Liner Notes --
MATSUDAIRA Nariatsu (the target) The young lord of the Tatebayashi fief is probably modeled after the real life figure MATSUDAIRA Nariyoshi (also called MATSUDAIRA Tokunosuke 1819-1839), who was the 19th (or perhaps 20th) son of the 11th Tokugawa Shogun TOKUGAWA Ienari (1787-1837). He was also the younger brother of the 12th Tokugawa Shogun TOKUGAWA Ieyoshi (1837-1853).
Miyamoto Musashi --
Miyamoto Musashi (1584?-1645?), inventor of the "Nito" (two-sword) fighting style, was a reasonably well-known figure in Japan during his life. However, it was only after the publication of Yoshikawa Eiji's newspaper serial "Miyamoto Musashi," starting in 1935, that he became a legend. The subsequent novel, Musashi, while based on historical fact, contains considerable amounts of fiction as well. However, the novel has enjoyed immense success over the years as one of the most famous books in the world, selling over 120 million copies worldwide (more than The Lord of the Rings and Chronicles of Narnia books series), and has been termed the “Gone with the Wind of Japan.”
Onimasa Liner Notes --
“‘Oni’ with ‘ryu,’ as in ‘ryu-gu-jo’; ‘in’ is the ‘in’ that is used in monastic names. And, as for ‘hana’… as for ‘hana’… it’s the ‘hana’ that means flowers.” There is no real English counterpart here per se, as the name of the main character is being “spelled out” in Chinese logograms. Each logogram corresponds to each phoneme of her name.
Revenge (Adauchi) --
“So when did you become a dragoon?” The Japanese term used is “Uma-mawari,” or “Around the Horse.” Uma-mawari were mounted guards, usually employed to guard high-ranking officers and convey messages across the battlefield. However, they would typically fight dismounted.
Revenge of a Kabuki Actor Liner Notes --
Ichikawa began his career as a cartoonist, and collaborated with his wife, screenwriter Natto WADA, until 1965. His films are generally regarded as dark and bleak, interspersed with sparks of humanity, and he often intertwines comedy and tragedy within the same story. He also has a flair for technical expertise, irony, detachment, and a drive for realism across all genres. After Akira KUROSAWA's departure, no other Japanese director has come close to Ichikawa's level of recognition, the power of his films, and commercial success.
Samurai Vendetta - Liner Notes --
Samurai Vendetta is a Chushingura side-story, which intersects with the main story at key points. The film was made for Japanese audiences, who would be extremely familiar with the details of the story of the 47 Ronin. Western viewers are thus well advised to take a crash-course in 47 Ronin lore in order to get the most out of the film.
Shinobi no Mono Liner Notes --
Shinobi no Mono is the first film in a massively popular ninja series which sparked the first “ninja boom” in Japan. Award-winning director Satsuo YAMAMOTO helmed the first film of the series, immediately getting rid of the fabricated, special effects laden look of the past and moving toward a more rustic look and feel, more akin to the realities of ninja life.
Shinsengumi Chronicles --
The Roshigumi and Shinsengumi
Shogun Assassin Liner Notes --
Shogun Assassin was created by editing together footage from the first two Lone Wolf and Cub (Kozure Ookami) films, Sword of Vengeance” and “Baby Cart at The River Styx”. It uses about 11 minutes of footage from the first film and 70 minutes of footage from the second.
Sleepy Eyes of Death Liner Notes --
Iga (far south-west of Edo, now a part of Mie prefecture), one of many provinces that was not a part of the scattered Shogunate domains, and thus not under the Shogunate control, also was home to many spies, Ninja and gangs that regularly infiltrated the Shogunate domains on behalf of various causes. So many of these spies, etc., were from Iga that the words “Igamono” (Iga-person) and “Igashuu” (Iga-people) eventually became synonymous with such infiltrators regardless of their true origins.
Sword of Desperation Liner Notes --
Sword of Desperation takes place sometime during the Tokugawa Era (approximately 1603-1868, also called Edo Period), the period named for the 15 generations of Tokugawa Shogun (Military Overlords) who ruled the nation, maintaining a relatively static society, for over 250 years. This period of military-rule was characterized by its relatively peaceful order overall, clear division of the social hierarchy, extravagance by the privileged classes, isolation from the West, and a lot of convoluted treachery, as well as many important cultural and intellectual developments.
The Blind Menace (Shiranui Kengyo) Liner Notes --
The Creation of The Blind Menace Unlike Ichikawa Raizo, Daiei’s other big star, Katsu Shintaro took a much longer time to establish himself. The studio originally tried hard to push Shintaro as one of its handsome leading men, in the same mold as Raizo and Hasegawa Kazuo. However, despite continued strong support from Daiei’s president, Shintaro’s looks did not appeal to audiences and his films were not hits, causing many theater owners to repeatedly ask the studio to stop using him. The real turning point in his career came with The Blind Menace. When Shintaro first read the story, he fell in love with it and did everything he could to turn it into a film. He completely devoted himself to the character, shaving his head and practicing the nuances of being blind. The film’s staff, screenwriter Inuzuka Minoru, and director Mori Kazuo were inspired by his devotion, resulting in a cinematic masterpiece that pushed the trio to the forefront of Japanese cinema. Katsu Shintaro finally had his breakthrough role.
The Great Killing Liner Notes --
Screenplay writer Kaneo IKEGAMI and Director Eiichi KUDO, who teamed up to create a new genre in Samurai Cinema with 13 ASSASSINS, continued their collaboration in this film. Based upon the mysterious death of TOKUGAWA Tsunashige in 1678, Ikegami wrote a story of JIMBO Heishiro, who joins the sure death revolt group against a large Shogunate Army. Director Kudo was happy what he accomplished with 13 ASSASSINS, but this film, THE GREAT KILLING, is regarded as his masterpiece.
The Loyal 47 Ronin Liner Notes --
The fictional account of the 47 Ronin's tale of revenge is known as Chushingura, and has been told and retold in almost all forms of media. There have been at least 22 different television series, 10 of which were produced in the last 10 years, and almost as many feature films devoted to the subject, and they're often shown in the month of December to commemorate the event.
The Samurai I Loved Liner Notes --
The original Japanese title of the film, “Semishigure,” literally means “outburst of cicadas,” and refers to the loud chorus of the cicadas song, raining down from the trees. “Semi” means cicada and “Shigure” refers to scattered showers. Cicadas are a special and familiar insect to the Japanese people, as over 30 species live in Japan, and they're omnipresent in the summer. Their songs are often representative of summer itself, and sometimes used to express the accompanying heat.
The Secret of the Urn --
One of the all-time most popular fictional samurai characters, the one-armed, one-eyed Tangé Sazen was created by Fubo HAYASHI (real name: Kaitarō HASEGAWA) in 1927. Tangé has appeared many times on the silver screen, including at least twice in a female incarnation.