Hiroshi Inagaki’s acclaimed Samurai Trilogy is based on the novel that has been called Japan’s Gone with the Wind. This sweeping saga of the legendary seventeenth-century samurai Musashi Miyamoto (powerfully portrayed by Toshiro Mifune) plays out against the turmoil of a devastating civil war. The Trilogy (whose first part won an Academy Award) follows Musashi’s odyssey from unruly youth to enlightened warrior. In the third installment, Duel at Ganryu Island, Musashi reunites tragically with the women who love him, and battles for samurai supremacy in a climactic confrontation with his lifelong nemesis. —The Criterion Collection
Inagaki’s career in film began as an actor—a child actor, in fact, appearing in numerous silent films beginning at the very dawn of Japanese cinema. This is probably why he was promoted to director at the unusually (for Japan) young age of 22. Along with producer Mansaku Itami (later the father of another acclaimed director, Juzo Itami), Inagaki concerned himself with the genre of Japanese period films. He also wrote (under a pseudonym) similar films for the short-lived director Sadao Yamanaka. The work of Inagaki, Itami and Yamanaka, singly and together, directly influenced the likes of Kenji Mizoguchi later, and helped define the very genre of the period film. Inagaki would direct dozens of them over his career, including two versions of Chushingura, and the Oscar winner for Best Foreign Film Samurai (1954, released in Japan as Miyamoto Musashi). For all his success, Inagaki grew more and more frustrated with his assignments over the years. Although proud of his final effort, Furin… read more
I felt that this was a well deserved ending to the samurai trilogy. The life of Musashi was well adapted into Inagaki's picture. The one regret is that it may have benefited slightly from a few more years of colour technology to develop. But overall it was a beautiful conclusion to the trilogy.
If one installment in Hiroshi Inagaki’s Samurai Trilogy stands out, then it’s probably the very last one. There are noticeable improvements in exterior lighting (which was clearly not a strong point… read review