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Tasogare Seibei


Unswerving cyclist
14 Mar 2002
"Tasogare Seibei" to compete at Berlin film festival

Japanese film "Tasogare Seibei" (The Twilight Samurai) directed by Yoji Yamada has been selected to compete at this year's 53rd Berlin International Film Festival, festival organizers said Thursday.

Yamada's film will compete for its first major film festival prize with 21 others for the Golden and Silver Bear awards at festival, to be held Feb 6-16.

=> http://www.japantoday.com/e/?content=news&cat=1&id=246895

=> http://www.berlinale.de/external/de/presse/actpics/1291.html

Here's a review by Daily Yomiuri.

'Seibei': Love by twilight

Tasogare Seibei

(four stars out of five)

Dir: Yoji Yamada

Cast: Hiroyuki Sanada, Rie Miyazawa, Keiko Kishi, Min Tanaka, Nenji Kobayashi

In a dark, shabby-looking room lies a corpse, its face covered with a white cloth as a group of women sob nearby. The prospects of this depressing opening, followed by a gloomy funeral scene, are hardly promising. But when the dashing Hiroyuki Sanada, playing the low-ranking samurai Seibei Iguchi, appears, his dignified presence raises the audience's hopes.

Tasogare Seibei is the story of a beautiful romance between a proud but poor samurai and a woman from a respectable samurai family. The film is the first jidaigeki period drama by director Yoji Yamada, who is known for the long-running Tora-san series.

Disheveled hair, worn-out kimono and tabi socks with holes transform the handsome Sanada into Seibei, who appears to lead a desperate life. Having just lost his wife to illness, he must take care of his two young daughters and aging, senile mother on a very limited income.

Seibei is a family man who enjoys seeing his daughters grow each day. Since he returns home immediately after the workday ends to take care of his family, he is nicknamed "Tasogare" (twilight) Seibei.

One day, the beautiful, young Tomoe (Rie Miyazawa) visits Seibei's home after leaving her cheating husband. The reunion between the childhood friends is sweet, although Tomoe's attachment to Seibei is clear from the beginning. Noting the neglected state of Seibei's home, Tomoe begins to make housekeeping calls.

Eventually, Tomoe's brother tells Seibei his sister is in love with him and asks that he marry her. Seibei refuses, claiming that Tomoe, with her wealthy upbringing, deserves more than the poverty he lives in.

Meanwhile, Seibei's rural Yamagata village becomes embroiled in various upheavals during the last turbulent years of the Edo period (1603-1868). One day, a high-ranking samurai who learns of Seibei's expertise in the martial arts orders Seibei to kill Yogo Zenemon (Min Tanaka), who denies accusations of treason by the master of his feudal clan.

Before he leaves, Seibei asks Tomoe to marry him if he wins the duel and returns. An embarrassed and regretful Tomoe replies that she has already accepted another proposal.

Sanada displays fine sword fighting skills in the duel scenes. His impressive physique and elegant mannerisms make for a captivating hero. As Seibei and Tomoe, Sanada and Miyazawa are a perfect match.

The movie emphasizes the beauty of nature--the snow-capped Mt. Chokai and its neighboring range that lies between Yamagata and Akita prefectures provide an impressive contrast with the blue sky. The film's landscapes offer a sense of serenity that is almost overwhelming.

Keiko Kishi plays the grown-up Ito, Seibei's youngest daughter, who stands at her family grave in the final scene. Here, it is revealed that the deep voice that has been narrating the film is hers. This is the downfall of an otherwise enjoyable film, because although she is used to evoke a sense of mature nostalgia, something tells me Kishi's voice is less than fitting. It's also frustrating, as it leaves the remainder of hero's life up to the imagination.

=> http://www.yomiuri.co.jp/newse/20021129woa8.htm (no longer available)
Mark Schilling interviewed Yoji Yamada, director of "The Twilight Samurai":

Showing samurai as they were

A director since 1961, with 77 films to his credit, Yoji Yamada, 71, is a Japanese film industry icon. His "Tora-san" series, about a wandering peddler who is forever falling in love, but never gets the girl, generated 48 hit installments -- and made Yamada the most successful Japanese director of his generation. He has also won his share of prizes, both domestic and international.

His latest film, "Tasogare Seibei (The Twilight Samurai)," has garnered the largest haul at home, including the Kinema Junpo magazine Best One prize -- considered Japan's most prestigious. On March 7, it also won 12 Japan Academy Awards, including Best Picture and Best Director -- the second-highest number ever after Masayuki Suo's 1997 "Shall We Dance?" Ironically, the film is Yamada's first-ever samurai drama -- but he is now planning another.

Here's the interview

=> http://www.japantimes.co.jp/cgi-bin/getarticle.pl5?fl20030316a4.htm
Wow, sounds like a great film with a compelling storyline and one i'll be keeping an eye out for. Thnx for the heads-up. :cool:
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