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Set in the Tokugawa era (1600-1868), Kobayashi’s classic film is a searing indictment of the hypocrisy and exploitation of the ideal of samurai honor. After the shogunate embarks on a campaign to wipe out provincial lords, thousands of ronin (masterless samurai) flood the cities looking for work. An older samurai, Hanshiro Tsugumo (Tatsuya Nakadai), arrives at the gate of the Iyi clan requesting the right to commit ritual suicide in their forecourt rather than starve. He is told that another ronin previously made the same request, hoping to be rewarded with alms but instead forced to commit the act with only a bamboo sword. Though Tsugumo feigns ignorance at first, the connection between the two impoverished samurai is gradually revealed.

Appears in: Samurai Cinema

Genres: Action, Drama

Other Films by Masaki Kobayashi

Samurai Rebellion

This stunning meditation on honor, duty, justice, and love, set in the 18th century, stars the magnificent Toshirô Mifune as Isaburo, a renowned swordsman who takes an heroic but deadly stand for individual freedom. Isaburo is the essence of samurai loyalty until his daughter-in-law is commandeered as mistress for his overlord. The injustice moves him