Late in the 1500s, an aging tea master teaches the way of tea to a headstrong Shogun. Through force of will and courageous fighting, Hideyoshi becomes Japan’s most powerful warlord, unifying the country. Rikyu, through the tea ceremony and floral arrangements, tempers his lord, helping Hideyoshi focus on a single flower or be in a simple room where the shape of a cup is of most importance. But other forces fuel Hideyoshi’s ambitions: the Portuguese bring a globe and guns, and he believes he can conquer Korea and China. When Rikyu raises doubts about invading China, Hideyoshi demands an apology, and Rikyu himself must find courage in the way of tea. –IMDb
Hiroshi Teshigahara (勅使河原 宏, Teshigahara Hiroshi?, January 28, 1927 – April 14, 2001) was an avant-garde Japanese filmmaker.
He was born in Tokyo, son of Sofu Teshigahara, founder and grand master of the the Sogetsu School of ikebana. He graduated in 1950 from the Tokyo National University of Fine Arts and Music and directed his first film, Pitfall (1962), in collaboration with author Kōbō Abe and musician Tōru Takemitsu. The film won the NHK New Director’s award, and throughout the 1960s, he continued to collaborate on films with Abe and Takemitsu while simultaneously pursuing his interest in ikebana and sculpture on a professional level.
In 1965, the Teshigahara/Abe film Woman in the Dunes (1964) was nominated for an Academy Award and won the Special Jury Prize at the Cannes Film Festival. In 1972, he worked with Japanese researcher and translator John Nathan to make the movie Summer Soldiers, a film set during the Vietnam War about American deserters living on the fringe… read more
The Japanese tea ceremony, calligraphy and Ikebana are all embodiments of Zen Buddhism, much like Teshigahara's beautiful, piercing film. Were it not for Yamazaki's cartoonish portrayal of Toyotomi Hideyoshi, this would be perfection. "Rikyu" deserves the Criterion treatment -- even the sub-standard transfer I saw couldn't diminish the aesthetic elegance found in every frame.