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The Twilight Samurai

4.6 out of 5 stars 127 customer reviews

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(Dec 28, 2004)
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Product Description


{12 Wins in the Japanese Film Academy Awards, including Best Director, Best Film, Best Screenplay, Best Actor and Best Actress.}

Seibei Iguchi (Hiroyuki Sanada) is a low-ranking samurai living in the fading days of the Shogun period in Japan. His wife has died of tuberculosis, and with two daughters and an elderly mother to support, he and his family must survive in austerity. The divorce of his childhood friend Tomoe (Rie Miyazawa) leads him into a confrontation with her violent ex-husband, a high ranking samurai, and Seibei triumph against all odds. Just Seibei as begins to dream that despite his impoverishment he might win the hand of the long loved Tomoe, he is caught in the shifting turmoil of the times. His superiors, having heard of his sword-fighting prowess, order him on a dangerous mission: kill a renowned warrior who is on the wrong side of a clan power struggle.

Slow-paced and subtle in presentation, The Twilight Samurai captures a side of the famed samurai that is rarely seen. Set in a northeastern province (Shonai) of late nineteenth century Japan, the film tells the story of Seibei Iguchi (Hiroyuki Sanada)--a low-ranking, debt-ridden samurai who, after losing his wife to consumption, struggles to care for his two young daughters and senile mother. Emphasizing the conflicts between duty and family, and love and class rank, director Yoji Yamada has created a film that is deeply engaging on several levels: a classic tale of honor, love, and courage.

Winner of 12 Japanese Film Academy Awards, as well as an Academy Award Nominee for Best Foreign Language Film, The Twilight Samurailives up to its billing. But don’t expect an action-packed, samurai-fighting film, or you will be sadly disappointed (there are only two modest fight scenes). --Joel Berman

Special Features

  • Interviews with director Yoji Yamada and star Hiroyuki Sanada

Product Details

  • Actors: Hiroyuki Sanada, Rie Miyazawa, Nenji Kobayashi, Ren Osugi, Mitsuru Fukikoshi
  • Directors: Yôji Yamada
  • Format: Multiple Formats, Closed-captioned, Color, NTSC, Subtitled, Widescreen
  • Language: Japanese
  • Subtitles: English
  • Region: Region 1 (U.S. and Canada only. Read more about DVD formats.)
  • Aspect Ratio: 1.85:1
  • Number of discs: 1
  • Rated: Unrated
  • DVD Release Date: December 28, 2004
  • Run Time: 129 minutes
  • Average Customer Review: 4.6 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (127 customer reviews)
  • ASIN: B00065GX0K
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #81,379 in Movies & TV (See Top 100 in Movies & TV)
  • Learn more about "The Twilight Samurai" on IMDb

Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

By Linda Linguvic HALL OF FAMEVINE VOICE on October 16, 2004
Format: DVD
This Japanese film, directed by Yoji Yamada, won many awards in Japan. I can certainly understand why. It breaks the mold of films usually associated with Samurai warriors, and instead shows us the human side of a man who lived for his honor and who also wanted to just simply live.

The time period is 19th Century Japan. The strength of the Samurais is fading. And our hero, played by Seibei Iguchi, is a recent widower who is trying to support his two young daughters and aging mother. Yes, he's a Samurai, but of a minor caste. This means he works a day job, the equivalent of bookkeeper, along with a group of other men. He's a sad man, ignoring his personal hygiene, which embarrasses his boss. And he always goes straight home after work, never accepting the invitations of his co-workers to go out for a drink.

His relatives want him to marry again but he rejects the marriage broker who comes to visit. And then a lovely woman does come into his life. She's a childhood friend who has married badly. Because she was so mistreated, she has come home to live with her family. She's beautiful and kind and gentle, ad the sad Samurai's children love her. Later, he shows his valor with some swordplay with her abusive husband.

But as the story continues, and a romance blossoms, the man feels unworthy, even though it is clear that he and this woman would make a good match. And then, suddenly, the head of his Samurai clan calls upon him to commit a murder for the honor of the clan. Reluctantly, very reluctantly, he accepts, understanding that it is likely he will die.

I learned a lot about Samurai life and the details of living in a harsh environment every day. I felt I was right there, in a culture that is indeed different from mine.
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Format: DVD
In "The Twilight Samurai", director Yoji Yamada conceived a more realistic interpretation of life in 19th century Japan than is often seen in "samurai films". The result in a genuine period film that spends time on the daily struggles and family life of its protagonist, Seibei Iguchi, without adrenaline-pumping swordplay. Yamada based the film's screenplay on 3 stories by novelist Shuuhei Fujisawa. The story is told partly from the point of view of Seibei Iguchi's daughter, Ito, who is 5 years old in the film, but provides voiceover narration as a grown woman.

Iguchi (Hiroyuki Sanada) is a low-ranking samurai of the Unasaka Clan, living under the Shogunate of mid-19th century Japan, a few years before the Meiji Restoration. Already the days of the samurai seem numbered, which casts a certain fatalism over the events of the film. Iguchi's wife has recently died after a long and taxing illness, leaving him to care for his two young daughters and senile mother with insufficient income. Iguchi actually enjoys the life of a farmer and watching his daughters grow, but his poverty leaves him without even proper clothing to fulfill his professional responsibilities. His spirits are lifted when he learns that Tomoe (Rie Miyazawa), a woman he has adored since childhood, has received a divorce from her abusive husband. But when his clan's leader dies, the ensuing struggle for power may prove fatal for many samurai.

"The Twilight Samurai"'s success depends upon the performance of Hiroyuki Sanada, who makes Iguchi's humility, heartbreak, and eccentricities convincing. Mutsuo Naganuma's delicate, subtly hued cinematography draws our attention to character development and small gestures. This is a period drama, not a martial arts film.
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Format: DVD
Growing up with a first generation Japanese father and a second generation Japanese-American mother, and being very American the Japanese culture is very close and dear to me. Ever since I can remember, films like Seven Samurai, Rashomon, Yojimbo, Kwaidan, Ugetsu Monogatari, Sword of Doom and Seppuku [Harakiri] have shaped my view of Japanese cinema. I've also watched more Japanese TV historical drama series than I can remember in the last 35 plus years.

A few weeks ago, I happened upon Tasogare Seibei [Twilight Samurai] very much on accident and can't stop thinking about it. It's affected me that much. And more than anything it has opened my eyes to my ignorance regarding modern Japanese cinema. Sure I've enjoyed movies like Shall We Dance and Ringu, but only because they both had releases in the US. Tasogare Seibei has made me realize that modern samurai era films can be very very good, and don't necessarily need names like Kurosawa, Inagaki, Kobayashi or Okamoto attached to them to be good.

This film reminds me very much of Seppuku in that the central character is a devoted and loving father that makes great sacrifices for his family. Unlike the emotional and explosive battle climax that takes place in Seppuku the duel here is taken on reluctantly by Seibei with a heavy heart, yet equally heroically. This reluctance to violence by Seibei is similar to that of William Munny in Unforgiven. But while both are family men and farmers, they have very different character at their core.

Violence and the understanding of it is not what makes this such a great movie.
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