RV!: Samurai I: Musashi Miyamoto (1964) Dir: Hiroshi Inagaki Date Released: November 1955 Date Seen: July 23rd, 2009 Rating: 3.5/5
Musashi Miyamoto, director Hiroshi Inagaki's first installment in his three-part adaptation of the epic historical novel by the same name, is remarkable not because of how it sets up the series's dense plot but rather because of its formal audacity. Inagaki's composition of shots is so rich with detail that it often distracts from the mood of the scene itself, forcing the viewer to flesh out specific features of the mise en scene that they should be focussing on. He lays on layer-upon-layer of shadow and color to the point where his canvas becomes ruddy with its hyper-real presentation of human figures as moving parts of the landscape. Scenes where Miyamoto clambers about in the dark up hills and through fields reminded me of Ang Lee's The Hulk because of how intriguing but also infuriating its night-time landscape shots could be.
I appreciated the plot more this time around, though it still feels abrupt in its pacing, which I'm tempted to say is an inevitable pitfall considering that it's an adaptation of a novel that has been likened to Gone with the Wind. But it's the images I remember most about this film, the scenes on the bridge, over the hills, in the shrubbery, up a tree. I don't feel comfortable with them just yet but I do still feel transfixed by them.