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Friday, July 19, 2013

Samurai I: Musashi Miyamoto (1954) d. Hiroshi Inagaki

Toshiro Mifune in Samurai I: Musashi Miyamoto (1954)


Samurai I: Musashi Miyamoto (1954)
d. Hiroshi Inagaki
Volume One of the Samurai Trilogy
Spine #14

  As I mentioned the other day it's a mistake to think of streaming video as some kind of monolithic, unchanging edifice.  Not last month I wanted to watch Samurai I: Murashi Miyamoto because it has a low spine number and I was thwarted.  I went so far as to go to Amazon Instant Video and put it on my to watch list- but it would have cost four bucks.

  Then, in early July Hulu Plus updates the Criterion Interface and blammo- there is Samurai I: Murashi Miyamoto, staring me smack in the face.  It really makes me think I should watch all the Hulu Plus Crtierion Collection Titles with low spine numbers- there is something about the first 100 of any collection of titles that really sets the tone for the future.

  Soooo yeah... never thought I'd be one of those guys who watched Samurai movies but here I am.  The notable aspects of the Samurai trilogy are one) they are star making performances for Toshiro Mifune who is "the man" of 50s and 60s Samurai pictures and two) Musashi Miyamoto was a real dude who wrote a read-until-today book of Zen buddhist philosophy and military strategy.  Chapter 1 is about his awakening, during the film he is transformed from a wild eyed bandit to a zen buddhist master samurai thanks to the helpful guidance of a Buddhist monk, who does helpful things like hanging him from a tree for a week and locking him a prison cell with a library of books for three years.

  But at the end he walks out enlightened, so it is all worth it.  The depth of the spiritual awakening experienced by Miyamoto belies any facile "the Samurai movie is a Western" comparisons.  

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