This historical epic remains overshadowed by Mizoguchi’s other late films. While many of those are masterpieces of female suffering, Tales of the Taira Clan is a samurai film, which follows the rise of a warrior during a 12th-century power struggle between the imperial court and a powerful monastic order. In fact, Mizoguchi imbues the young man’s struggle with something of the emotional power of his great melodramas. The film’s burnished colors exist in ironic contrast to the depiction of medieval Kyoto as a brutal and frenzied place. More recently, critics have pointed to the film’s portrait of a Japan striving to turn from chaos, elitism and corruption to peace and democracy.