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Miyamoto Musashi

Screening on Film
Directed by Kenji Mizoguchi.
With Chojuro Kawarasaki, Kinuyo Tanaka, Kigoro Ikushima.
Japan, 1944, 16mm, black & white, 55 min.
Japanese with English subtitles.

For his follow-up to The 47 Ronin Mizoguchi offered another adaptation of Japanese military legend that subtly, and stylishly, avoided the bellicose patriotism encouraged by government-pressured film studios. While centered around the eponymous swordsman, ronin and philosopher of war, Miyamoto Musashi carefully limits and contains its laconic action sequences, especially the climatic duels, to instead emphasize Musashi’s temperate side—revealed though his patient teaching of a vengeful young disciple, and his intimate rapport with the lush Japanese country side and forests. Among the few Mizoguchi’s films in which women appear only in minor, secondary roles Miyamoto Musashi is among the director’s most rarely screened works.

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The Tales and Tragedies of Kenji Mizoguchi

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Devour the Land: Cinema, landscape, history.