This week’s Monday Movie comes from a list I did for the Rupert Pupkin Speaks blog, detailing the best older movies I discovered in the year 2015. You can find the rest of the list here.
Describing this movie makes it sound almost like a prank. Yes, it’s about samurai plotting revenge on the man their master was executed for trying to kill. But it’s also a four hour movie that consists almost entirely of people sitting in rooms talking. The major action set-piece, the raid on the rival master’s home, happens off screen and is relayed when a letter describing the events is read aloud. Somehow, though, it remains riveting. That’s because The 47 Ronin is not really a revenge story at all. It’s about how people in a society where protocol and decorum are inextricably tied to one’s standing, honor and sense of self-worth negotiate their way through their passions and emotions. Every bit of rage, envy, love, abandon, etc. has to be made to fit the boxes prescribed by the culture. It’s more fascinating to watch than any swordfight.