Between the softness of Dersu Uzala and the grandeur of Ran, is the soft grandeur of Kagemusha, in which Kurosawa revisits his old stomping ground in assured return to form, and whose exploration of dynastic feud and class comment (here encompassing its Jean Valjean-esque title figure) remains unfailing in power. Along with its vibrant colour spectrum - energised by the earlier dabbling of Dodesukaden - its precise choreography, captured by elegant long takes, indeed soften its tempo, creating a unique, triumphant blend of on-screen grace and artistry.
"The shadow of a man can never stand up and walk on its own." Kagemusha takes a few viewings to understand. Kurosawa does not help the audience along, but drops them into a reality. It takes an hour before the real meaning of the first act unfolds. Then the viewpoint begins to shift to follow Shingen's kagemusha (further) into mania. As the kagemusha fights his demons, war also creates a separation of identity.
A flawed, intelligent, beautifully shot film about the aftermath of death, the nature of identity and the politics of war. This was my second time watching - the first was a shortened version streaming off Netflix on my 17" computer, while this time it was the Criterion blu-ray's 180-minute cut on a 39" HDTV - and it definitely grew on me.
My favorite Kurosawa film. Excellent plot, great dialogue and themes, stunning cinematography, great performances. Has far more subtlety and depth than his very overrated Seven Samurai.
The most masterful piece of cinema ever made. On a plane above: made as if it were his last. Does not meet the audience halfway or have childish themes; transcends entertainment in pursuit a broader honest truth. The only possible fault: not enough telling. Every shot is a visually PERFECT vivid painting. A meticulous & methodical examination of a time, being and existence. A precise reality falls into a lucid dream.
The battle scenes were staggering to look at if mildly confusing at times, but you can tell Kurosawa was in his element working in big productions like this one. Also, the score is uncommonly flamboyant in comparison to his other works and really effective in its own way, it gave some of the scenes much more energy.
An amazing masterpiece. As my first film by Akira Kurosawa that I have seen, I can just say I was BLOWN away. It was cinematically beautiful, the story was great, the look, the feel, how it was shot, EVERYTHING. I really loved it. My all time favourite scene was the dream sequence, but the whole movie looked beautiful. Instant 10/10. Highly recommend it.
A near masterpiece, IMO it is merely a precursor to the amazing Ran, there are a few flaws in Kagemusha that have irritated me, they are mostly minor ones. the biggest being the strange score, I don't know what Kurosawa was getting at with the score, an interesting choice, surely he could have gone with something that didn't sound like it came from Hollywood? The rest of the few flaws that are there are negligible.
I cannot see why anyone would call this a masterpiece. The story might have been interesting, but it is told in a very childish way. The shots have nice ideas, but are lacking composition. Only the actors do a very good job at playing characters that unfortunately are not plausible. That's merely 2 out of 5 stars.
80% of Kagemusha is shots of horses falling down. The 20% that isn't is just incredible.
i am aware that most people see this as almost a prototype for Ran, which is regarded as the superior film, but i find Kagemusha to be a much more enjoyable film to watch. everything about it is absolutely stunning, sad, and incredibly beautiful. Tatsuya Nakadai remains one of my favorite actors and this is just one more achievement in his already excellent body of work.
An epic with a capital E as only Kurosawa could make it. Kagemusha is a dazzling pageant of color and light anchored by a magnificent dual performance by Tatsuya Nakadai. However the pacing of the film is uneven to a point where it keeps things from being perfect. Also the version I watched on Netflix instant was the 162 min version which sucks. Still, an enjoyable ride and well worth the watch. Great battle scenes.
I have loved everything else I have seen by Kurosawa but found this film's pacing and screenplay lacking, at the last half hour point I had given up caring what was going to happen. It is a great looking and great acted film, but I was pretty disappointed with it. Ran is a far superior film I feel.
Started out a little slow, but I thought Ikiru ("To Live" or "Living") was the same way. It may just be my dealing with the language barrier but his movies have a tendency to start out with me wondering if I'm going to end up bored, and by the later parts of movie feeling so satisfied and fulfilled in the fact that I waited. Kurosawa seems to tap into emotional landscapes that before I was unfamiliar with.
I have the criterion edition of this on DVD and it is worth getting for the historical context of both the plot and the production of the film. I like all the samurai type films of Kurosawa that I have seen : 7 samurai, yojimbo, ran and kagemusha. This one is perhaps not the most entertaining but could be the most complex and ultimately the most rewarding.