A Shadow with the Saddest Eyes

Kagemusha

Akira Kurosawa, 1980

Two Things:

This is a movie about the power of great men.  Great in the perfect sense, a force of personality, an aura that is so large that they were born to be historical.  Shingen the Warlord is such a man and so long after death the power of his aura, the suggestion of his mere existence is enough to hold his clan together, keep his army afloat, and his enemies guessing.  Everybody lives in the shadow or becomes a shadow of greatness and when it is gone they are left on their own, nothing holding together like it used to.

On a literal level this is Kurosawa’s big “Fuck the West” film.  The second some Catholic guys showed up on-screen I knew where the guns had come from.  Kurosawa probably didn’t hate the West but he was a young man when the A-Bombs blew, he knew his history and came to the conclusion every smart person does at some time: things were better off before we knew what a white person was.  There is no honor in living anymore, no honor in war, no code, no seeing the whites of their eyes.  We’re just blown to fucking hell by people far away.

-Daniel Von Egidy, 2012

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