SEE classic samurai films on the big screen this May thanks to ACMI’s Samurai Cinema season. Meld’s resident film buff Hieu Chau shares his showing recommendations and details on how to win free tickets.
Samurai film has long been a staple of Japanese cinema and remains one of its most popular genres both locally and abroad.
The genre has influenced many filmmakers and has gifted the world with some of the most important landmark films to ever be created. Without samurai films, movies such as Star Wars, A Bug’s Life, A Fistful of Dollars or Kill Bill mightn’t have ever existed or functioned in the same way!
In recognition of samurai films and their influence on filmmakers, the Australian Centre for the Moving Image (ACMI) have devised an upcoming program appropriately titled, ‘Samurai Cinema: The Way of the Warrior‘ beginning May 16 and ending June 1.
The series spotlights some of the films that have had a major influence on the landscape of cinema as well as though heavily influenced by samurai films.
Split into three chapters – Courage, Honour and Honesty – the program invites fans of samurai films and those new to the genre, an oppurtunity to experience classics the way they ought to be presented; on a big screen in their original prints.
If you’re looking to reacquaint yourself with some of your favourite films or want to know a little bit more about the films you think you’re going to see, below you’ll find one recommendation from each chapter of films I’ve already checked out.
Chapter 1: Courage – Seven Samurai
Akira Kurosawa, Japan’s most famous director, cut his teeth on making samurai films and as a result, created some of the best films made in the history of cinema which many pundits agree on (some of them are showing in the program!).
His most famous film, Seven Samurai, is repeatedly heralded as his absolute masterwork with many proclaiming it to be the most influential film in the samurai genre.
Telling the story of seven wandering warriors who band together to help a poor village ward off treacherous bandits, this three-hour epic demands viewing and influenced many films that came after it including a terrific American remake in 1960 dubbed, The Magnificent Seven.
Other films screening in Courage: Yojimbo (1961), The Wages of Fear (1953), The Twilight Samurai (2002).
Chapter 2: Honour – 13 Assassins
Maverick Japanese director, Takashi Miike (Audition, Ichi the Killer), unleashed 13 Assassins in 2011 and gifted the world with a rollicking (and bloody!) samurai film that pits 13 samurai against 200.
Similar to Seven Samurai in its story of a band of warriors coming to the aid of bullied villagers, the film takes pride in its anarchy and is one of the most fun samurai films you’re likely to see.
It’s one of the better modern samurai films and is an intense ride from finish to end.
Other films screening in Honour: The Hidden Fortress (1958), Goyokin (1969), Double Feature: Lone Wolf and Cub: Sword of Vengeance (1972)+ Lady Snowblood (1973).
Chapter 3: Honesty – Ghost Dog: The Way of the Samurai
Unlike the aforemtioned films, this is an American feature directed by famed independent director, Jim Jarmusch (Dead Man, Only Lovers Left Alive).
Starring Forest Whitaker, the film sees mysterious hitman, Ghost Dog, embody the spirit of the samurai in a modern world where the ideals haboured by samurai are no longer in effect.
Critically adored by many, Ghost Dog: The Way of the Samurai is an interesting outlier in the mix of films in this program.
Other films screening in Honesty: Harakiri (1962), Rashomon (1950), Shane (1953).
The ‘Samurai Cinema: The Way of the Warrior’ film program will be screening at ACMI from May 16 – June 1. Be sure to check ACMI’s official website for more information on individual session times and bookings.
Meld Magazine have two double passes for ACMI’s Samurai Cinema film program to give away. For your chance to win, enter below but be quick – entries close on Thursday! Winners will be contacted via e-mail.