“Twilight Samurai”: The Twilight of An Old Japan

  • If the image of a humble hero with hidden skills who fights to protect is your thing, then this movie is perfect for you. Twilight Samurai follows the life of an impoverished samurai, Seibei, when a series of events forces him into a dangerous position of losing all that he cares for.

    The plot might not be new, but Twilight Samurai had won 12 Japanese Academy Awards in 2003, a first in history, including Best Picture and Best Actor. Even the world’s loved movie critic Roger Ebert gave Twilight Samurai a perfect four stars scoring! It’s time to firm up your samurai-like resolve to put out 2 hours of an evening, as we bring you four more reasons to watch this gem of a movie. You’ll get an exposure to Japanese history, get a glimpse of a samurai’s romance, and be entertained by an alluring film directed by Yoji Yamada. When the twilight closes out on the film, maybe it will have burnt that sunset scene into your heart too.

    1. Change is the Motif

    Twilight is the change of time, and a fitting representation of changes in the Meiji Restoration, a period known for its importance in modernising Japan. Twilight Samurai shows us the many changes Japan was going through, for example, the blurring between the lives of samurai and the peasants, and the rise of education for girls. These add interest to the background story and are crispy tidbits for Japanese history buffs.

    2. Hiroyuki Sanada

    Before this awesome actor starred beside Tom Cruise in The Last Samurai and Keanu Reeves in 47 Ronin, Hiroyuki Sanada was in Twilight Samurai. He usually brings a sense of fire to films, portraying characters of forces to be reckoned with. However, in this film, you’ll see Hiroyuki suppressing his charisma to play a humble samurai in a tumultuous era, but still look with an air of honour for the portrayal of Seibei.

    3. Kakugo

    There is no lack of beautiful scenes in Twilight Samurai, achieved through careful framing and good use of lighting. One of the important scenes to watch out for is where the director leveraged on one of the moonlight scenes to portray our hero’s kakugo, which means “resolve” in Japanese. Like the watchful moon on that silent night, we watch quietly as this humble samurai transforms into a man of greatness before our very eyes. Oh, how romantic is Bushido, the way of the warrior.

    4. Who is the Villain?

    Seibei fights to protect his daughter and mother, and hopefully his own dreams. Yet we share his exasperation when he is forced to fight, due to unfolding circumstances. We find it difficult to put a face to the “enemy”, forcing us to reconsider what fighting means, and what values are being fought for. This theme is very fitting as you put it in context with the changes that were going in Japan.