Dir. Kenji Mizoguchi. 1944, 55 mins. 16mm print from the Japan Foundation. With Chojuro Kawarasaki, Kinuyo Tanaka, Kigoro Ikushima, Kan’emon Nakamura. Mizoguchi added a dash of signature style to this jidaigeki (period drama) concerning the seventeenth-century inventor of two-sword combat, later the subject of Hiroshi Inagaki’s Samurai Trilogy. Mizoguchi’s particular twist is mixing in an element of wrathful womanhood, as Musashi is recruited by a young woman, Shinobu, and her brother, who are seeking training in order to avenge the death of their father. Perhaps it is this dangerous, untamed femininity that led to censorship by the same wartime government who had rapturously received Mizoguchi’s The 47 Ronin.
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