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Miyamota Musashi (1944)

Director: Kenji Mizoguchi

Jack   A-

IMDB    6.7



   A movie by the great Kenji Mizoguchi about the famous swordsman Miyamota Musashi, who would later be portrayed in the Samurai Trilogy.

Shinobu and her brother Genichiro come to Miyamota and ask him to teach them so they may avenge their father's death. Miyamoto tells them he can not help them because he has just been challenged by the Yoshioka school and must fight tomorrow, and can not guarantee he will be available. The next day Miyamoto goes out to the duel and tells Genichiro to avoid revenge. He needs to stay on the right path of the samurai. At the duel Miyamota faces about thirty men, but he comes away victorious. He has wiped out the bloodline of the Yoshioka and becomes more famous than ever.

When Genichiro and Shinobu greet Miyamota back at their house he tells them, "You said something about avenging your father. I can't. I don't teach the sword for revenge. The sword is the way. Not a convenient tool for revenge.Learning the sword for purposes of revenge is like a merchant crafting a product to make profits and limiting it to the usage as a tool, how do you expect to understand the true way?"

When the killers of Shinobu and Genichiro's father, the Samoto brothers, see them practicing with Miyamoto, they ask one of the most skilled samurais in the country, Kojiro Sasaki of the Gan Style, to help them. Kojiro sees it as an opportunity to match up with the great Miyamota.

When Genichiro is practicing he is ambushed and killed by Kojiro and the Samoto brothers. Kogiro tells Shinobu to tell Miyamoto that it was he, Kojiro, who killed Genichiro. When Shinobu tells Miyamoto, he goes out and looks for Kojiro but doesn't find them. Miyamoto then leaves for a year to do some work for a clan. Then a duel between the two is set up by a Lord on an island, but there are to be no spectators.

On the way to the duel the Samoto brothers attack him, but Miyamoto quickly disposes of them. Miyamoto then goes off to the inevitable meeting of the two men "seeking the way". Miyamoto makes quick work of Kojiro, but he wasn't satisfied with himself. When Shinobu tells him she is going to be a nun, Miyamoto tells her she will be his wife in spirit, as he goes on about seeking the way.

Mizoguichi would later admit to having made Musashi Miyamoto to avoid the draft. he was able to put some of his personal style in to the film however, including a positive portrayal of Shinobu, but Mizoguichi was forced to glorify the militaristic spirit of the day. A good movie, although it is short, at 53 minutes. Not many wasted scenes in this one.