The Twilight Samurai -たそがれ清兵衛 (Tasogare Seibei)

Twilight Samurai

To live contently doesn’t mean you have to live with a lot of money.

Twilight Samurai is the humblest samurai movie I have ever seen. When I decided to watch this movie, I simply want to watch it because of Hiroyuki Sanada (I can proudly said he is one of my most favorite Japanese Actors even though I haven’t seen all his movies). I have heard that Twilight Samurai is a good movie but I never really searched to find how good it was. Right after I finished watching it, I looked for it in imdb.com and I wasn’t surprised to know that Twilight Samurai had won many awards and nominated for Best Foreign Language Film at Academy Award 2004. You can see all the awards here.

Why did I say I wasn’t surprised? Because Twilight Samurai is indeed really really good. It’s so original and so different to most samurai movies that ever come across my attention. TS has a lot of heart in its story. If you are expecting a lot of sword fighting scenes in TS, you will end up disappointed but if you are looking for a warm story that shows what most samurai were on Tokugawa era…then you will find the movie satisfying.

The story was narrated by Ito, the youngest daughter of Iguchi’s family:

With a sick wife, two young daughters and an aged mother in his care, my father was unable to drink with his colleagues. He had to hurry home every evening at dusk. I was told the men he worked with gave him the cruel nickname of ‘Twilight Seibei’.

Senbei - HiroyukiIguchi Seibei (Hiroyuki Sanada) was a low ranking samurai. He was more like an accountant than a soldier. When his wife died he was forced to hold a grand funeral because her family came from a wealthier family. The widower had to raise his two daughters and took care of his senile mother all by himself…but he never complained because he loved his family with all his heart.

…watching my daughters as they grow day by day is…how shall I put it? It’s like watching crops ripen or flowers grow in a field. I enjoy it very much.

His simple life was about to change when the woman from his childhood came to his house. He had been in love with her since childhood but he kept it to himself. Tomoe was married to a drunk retainer. When Tomoe’s former husband challenged her brother (her brother was the one who help with the divorce), Senbei stepped up to the challenge. Seibei and Tomoe’s brother were good friends. He defeated the man by using wooden sword.

The fight made his co-workers looked at him in different way, they used to mock him behind his back. But the fight also forced him to follow the code of samurai. He had to obey the leader of his clan to kill Zenemon Yogo.

Tomoe and SenbeiApart from that code of samurai story, we got to see how love bloomed between Tomoe and Seibei.

What made TS interesting was the way the story evolved in a natural way, the movie was 2 hours but it didn’t feel that long at all. It flowed smoothly. TS also showed the other side of low ranking samurai. They worked like white collar people, not all samurai ended up as fighter. Although I have seen/read about the honor of sword fighting between two samurais, it was still interesting to see how they honored their opponent. When Seibei was about to fight Yogo, he prepared not only his sword but also his way of dressing. And when they fight, they didn’t do it with full hatred but with honor toward each other.

Samurai era always fascinate me. Many told me that they like period movies…I don’t share their enthusiasm when it comes to Western period (when I watched Western period movies, it was pure because of the story or the cast) … my favorite period movie has always been SAMURAI period. Their culture never stopped making me amazed.

I also enjoyed the language…the way they speak sounded so different with nowadays Japanese. I could hardly understand them…it was a good way to practice my listening 😉

My father had no desire to rise in the world and I don’t think he considered himself unlucky. He loved his daughters and the beautiful Tomoe loved him. His life, I think was short but full. I am proud to have had such father.

 If you haven’t watched The Twilight Samurai…DO WATCH IT!!

Movie Detail:

Director: Yôji Yamada
Writers: Yôji Yamada, Shuhei Fujisawa, Yoshitaka Asama
Starring: Hiroyuki Sanada, Rie Miyazawa, Min Tanaka, Keiko Kishi
Music: Isao Tomita
Release: November 2, 2002
Rating: 5 stars

This is my second movie for World Cinema Series hosted by Caroline @ Beauty is a Sleeping Cat

japan

Note: If you never seen Hiroyuki Sanada before, he played in Sunshine with Cillian Murphy (one of many reasons why I love Sunshine, it has 2 favorite actors of mine), The Last Samurai (he was the reason why I watched that movie), and Rush Hour 3. He will be in 47 Ronin (again with my other favorite actor, Keanu) and The Wolverine (It will be my first time watching x-men related movie in cinema…just for Hiroyuki-sama).

This is my first Double Review with Jason @ Genkina Hito’s Blog. Jason has a great way of reviewing, unlike my way his way is very thorough. He has written more on the storyline and also highlighted the way Yamada directed the movie.  I am happy to know that he also loved the movie even though it is a full action samurai movie. What makes him likes the movie is same with me:

“It is a very well made film which tells a simple but rich and gripping story. Its power is down to the acting and the effective way the story unfolds through the script and direction.”

Do stop by at his blog and read his review to get a better perspective of the movie. 🙂

It’s been nice doing this review with you, Jason. Maybe next time we can do it again 🙂

34 thoughts on “The Twilight Samurai -たそがれ清兵衛 (Tasogare Seibei)

  1. Oh, I like this movie too! You should see the others two to complete this trilogy. All of them is interesting twists of samurai genre.

  2. It’s one of my favorites, too. Glad to hear it registered with you as well, Novroz. Tell me, have you seen ‘The Hidden Blade’ by Yôji Yamada? They made a wonderful double-feature. Thanks.

    1. I didn’t know you have seen this one, Mike. So happy to know you like it too.
      No, I haven’t seen that one yet…but now that you’ve mentioned it, I will make sure I find it. Thanks 🙂

  3. This sounds wonderful, Novia, Thanks so much for the review. I’d really like to see this. I like the actor as well, I have seen both Sunshine and The Last Samurai. I find it interesting that it is a Samurai movie involving less sword fights, it shows new aspects I wasn’t aware of.

    1. He has oozing charisma 😉
      I first saw him in Ringu and like him straight away, I am glad he captured your attention on Sunshine and The Last samurai. I think you’ll like Twilight Samurai, not an action movie at all…more like family or love story.

  4. […] Overall I enjoyed The Twilight Samurai a lot. It won 12 Japanese academy awards in 2003 including the ones for lead actor, actress and director and picture as well as lighting an cinematograph. Those awards are richly deserved. It is a very well made film which tells a simple but rich and gripping story. Its power is down to the acting and the effective way the story unfolds through the script and direction. This is a review written as a double review with Novroz over at bokunosekai check out her review! […]

      1. I tried to fix it but it didn’t work 😦 the image is still that character with love eyeglasses.

        Maybe it sounds familiar because of its nomination in Oscar. I think you will enjoy it, it shared more than just sword-fights and/or revenge theme. It is about being content.

  5. Great review!

    I think you’ve got the film totally when you says it’s about being content and you used an excellent word to describe this with humble.

    I was expecting more of an action oriented film with lots of sword fighting and posturing but it’s a great drama about finding happiness and working hard to maintain it even in the face of fierce opposition. The fact that our lead characters are genuinely real and loveable people makes this film a cut 😉 above most samurai films I have seen! Plus the direction and set design and all the other technical aspects are dead on perfect. Hiroyuki Sanada is an ace actor!

    Doing the double-review was fun. Let me know when you want to do it again and we’ll schedule something! 🙂

    1. Thank you Jason 🙂 yours is better in my opinion.
      When I saw Seibei, I knew I would use that word in my review…it’s so nice seeing how humble a samurai can be.

      To be honest…I was also expecting something like 13 assassins but to my own surprise, I really enjoy the drama and not disappointed at all at how lack of fighting scenes this movie has. Hear hear!! I like him straight away when I saw him as Ryuji, as I once said it in one of my posts (I forgot which one), he has an oozing charisma.

      Let’s do it again!! 🙂 What film should we do? I wish you have watched Kenshin (I have watched and reviewed it). Have you seen Detroit Metal City? I have it and haven’t had time to watch it yet.

  6. I haven’t watched this film but been hearing great reviews for it, you even gave it 5 stars! Now I’m more curious to watch it (but I still have loads of films that I haven’t watched -_-). Well, I’m not really that familiar with Japanese films (except horrors), let alone Samurai-themed ones. As I recall, the only Samurai films I’ve seen are Seven Samurai and…The Last Samurai, which is not really a Japanese film haha Anyway, thanks for the recommendation, miss 🙂

    1. Ah…too bad! You’re missing a lot…Japanese movies are often better than Hollywood’s. They often have unpredictable plot and far from being cliche.

      Hehehe I haven’t watched Seven Samurai…I am a bit reluctance when it comes to black and white movies…but I am planning to watch it one day. As for The Last Samurai, I probably wouldn’t watch it if Sanada is not in it 😉

      Hope you’ll give Twilight Samurai a look, Fariz

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