Shadow Warrior by Akira Kurosawa
The film “Shadow Warrior” also known as “Kagemusha” was made by Kurosawa in the year of 1980. The film recounted the actual historical event about the death of a great samurai Shingen Takeda who was known as the head of Takeda family. The film started in the year of 1573 while all samurai families competed with each other and the final goal was to unite Japan as a whole. The period was also known as Sengoku period. The story began in Shingen’s place while his younger brother, Nobukado found a thief who looked almost exactly like his brother. The safety for the head of family was top priority during Sengoku period. Therefore, the using of substitute in order to confuse enemies was a common technique used in the battle field. The substitute is called Kagemusha in Japanese.
The amazing part of the story is not the using of Kagemusha but the ability of the thief to pretend the real Shingen even he has been dead for more than 2 years. Shingen’s brother and his subordinates also played big roles in hiding the news of Shingen’s death. They tricked the alliance of Oda Nobunaga and Tokugawa Ieyasu with Kagemusha for more than 2 years. Oda Nobunaga was considered one of the smartest Lord and Tokugawa Ieyasu was the person who finally united Japan as a whole later in this period. They once suspected right after Shingen’s death but still could not find hard evidence to prove the Shingen was a Kagemusha. The ending of the movie was rather tragic and sad. While the Kagemusha fell of the Shingen’s horse, the secret was revealed. The Kagemusha was able to hide this secret from his wives and grandson and even became really closed to his grandson who was supposed to be Singen’s inheritor for the Takeda Family. Sadly, he could not hide this secret from a horse which only recognized his real master. The rumor about Kagemusha quickly spread out within the family. Later on, Shingen’s subordinates decided to hold a funeral for Shingen. Kagemusha was not a rumor anymore but a truth. Quickly, Shingen’s son Katsuyori Takeda inherited Takeda family’s army and attacked alliance of Oda Nobunaga and Tokugawa Ieyasu. Shingen knew his son’s personality would lead Takeda Family into pieces so he named his grandson as his inheritor and his son as the guardian of the inheritor. However, Katsuyori was disappointed about Shingen’s decision and want to show his ability badly. The first attack he held against alliance of Oda Nobunaga and Tokugawa Ieyasu was saved by the Kagemusha but not the second time when he became the leader of Takeda Family. As an excepted ending, Takeda Family was defeated and the Kagemusha who simply influenced by Shingen’s will to protect the family was shot on the battle field and died with sorrow and sadness.
Kurosawa was a really successful director for war and action movies. He used pretty artistic approach to film a sequence of actions or a scene on the battle field. For example, he would use different camera angels to film the same sequence of action over and over with different character’s outfit or different usages of colors. This technique he used was to deliver different messages to the audience and to emphasize the quantity, or the quality, or the importance of this particular sequence. “Invoking imagery associated with the military codes of the samurai, he creates brilliant pictures of 16th-century warring feudal factions competing for predominance in a country in which the arts of war were highly developed. Few movies about medieval warfare have ever been so filled with magnificence in color and design as Kurosawa's two history films of the 1980s.”(Manheim) Kagemusha was a historical movie, thus the use of different signs has historical background and meaning. “Wind”, “Woods”, “Fire”, “Mountain” mean different kind of army from Takeda Family. Since Takeda Family was known for their cavalry both “Wind” and “Fire” are cavalry teams which mean their cavalry teams are...
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