The 47 Ronin

This is one of the many, many, many adaptations of the play The Loyal 47 Samurai. The story is about Lord Asano who is visited by Lord Kira. Lord Asano is a good man who doesn’t bow to corruption, which is why Lord Kira has come to make his life miserable and force him to play by the corrupt government’s rules. Lord Asano gets fed up and attacks Lord Kira. Lord Kira survives and the punishment for Lord Asano is harakiri, which he does. Then some of his samurai get together and decide to take revenge on Lord Kira. They kill him and then are sentenced to harakiri by the state. They follow through with their sentence.

The only other adaptation I have seen of this play is Mizoguchi’s The 47 Ronin from 1941. That film emphasized loyalty to your master and loyalty to the state. The story in this film is more fleshed out and they have snuck in Toshirô Mifune in a little side role. Setsuko Hara also makes an appearance. Other than that, it follows the plot as outlined above. The difference with this film is that it’s loyalty to yourself, to your principles, to what you believe in that are important. The film asks of Lord Asano and his vassals what they stand for and they answer with their lives. In turn, the film asks you as the viewer what you stand for and are you willing to give your life for it.

The film is three and a half hours long and while it drags a little around the two hour mark it is surprisingly gripping. I recommend it.