Taira Clan Saga* (Shin Heike Monogatari)
- 1955 ----- color ----- 107 min ----- vhs
(Directed by Kenji Mizoguchi, screenplay by Yoshikata Yoda, Masashige Narusawa, Hisaichi Tsuji from the novel by Eiji Yoshikata; with Raizo Ichikawa, Youshiko Kuga, Naritoshi Hayashi) Kenji Mizoguchi, one of the greatest Japanese directors, only made two films in color and this is the second of them. It's also the last of his many period dramas, a genre of which he was undisputed master. The story is set in the 12th century, at a crucial point in Japanese history: the moment when the samurais ceased to be mere hired fighters, despised by the courtly aristocrats, and took over as the dominant class in Japanese society--a status they would enjoy for the next 700 years. The politics of the film are complex--essentially it tells how one samurai clan, the Taira, broke the arrogant power of the Buddhist temples, with their armies of warrior monks, and began to undermine the supremacy of the Emperor. But it's not necessary to follow all the intricacies of the historical background to appreciate the dramatic sweep of clashing forces and the subtle psychological interplay of emotions as the young hero, Kiyomori, head of the Taira clan, finds his loyalties pulled this way and that, culminating in a crisis of identity as his parentage is called into question.
(In Japanese with English subtitles)
(Restricted to use on University of Washington campuses only)
- Topics: (Asian Languages and Literature, Far Eastern Studies, History: Asian, Japan, Literature, Motion Pictures: Features, Political Science: Asian)