Tales of the Taira Clan (Shin Heike Monogatari)
Dir. Kenji Mizoguchi. 1955, 108 mins. 16mm print from the Japan Foundation. With Ichijiro Oya, Raizo Ichikawa. For his final historical film and penultimate work, Mizoguchi adapted Eiji Yoshikawa’s twelfth-century-set historical novel. Returning to Kyoto after great military successes, Captain Tadamori is snubbed by courtiers, and the hopes of the family fall on his son, who may or may not actually be the son of the former Emperor. The saga of the Tairas takes place against a backdrop of internecine struggle between the decadent aristocracy and the insurgent monks who are roving the countryside, all making for a lavish, full-color spectacle that combines sweeping, epic action and emotional intimacy.
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