Tuesday, July 15, 2003

Cambridge Film Festival log (part II)

Monday night and I saw Twilight Samurai, set just before the Meiji Restoration, a period of uncertainty that shook up the long established order, which gives it echoes of the current day there. A poor, lowest-rank samurai, a widower with two daughters and aging mother is poor, and shabby, and has to go straight home each evening to keep the household running (hence his nickname, Twilight) but content in his lot, until an old friend returns from Edo, telling of the shameful state of affairs there, and that he has had his sister divorced from her drunken husband. The husband appears, and Twilight takes up the challenge he makes - but there is a clan proscription against duelling; so he faces his opponent's katana with just a wooden practice shortsword.

His victory gets whispered around the clan, and as the political situation deteriorates, he is ordered to kill another clan member, and renowned swordsman, who has refused an order to commit seppuku. But it isn't the simple "hit" one would expect, as issues of honour and obedience are tangled on both sides.

My vote for best film of the festival so far.

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