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2,253 Ratings



Directed by Akira Kurosawa
Japan, 1980
Action, Drama


A petty thief with an utter resemblance to a samurai warlord is hired as the lord’s double. When the warlord later dies the thief is forced to take up arms in his place.

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Kagemusha Directed by Akira Kurosawa

Awards & Festivals

Cannes Film Festival

1980 | Winner: Palme d'Or

Academy Awards

1981 | 2 nominations including: Best Foreign Language Film

National Board of Review

1980 | Winner: Top Foreign Films

BAFTA Awards

1981 | 2 wins including: Best Costume Design

1981 | 2 nominations including: Best Cinematography

Certain tableaux have a vaguely gaudy but lusciously polychromatic thrust, others are just kitsch. In fact, the entire movie looks as though it was cautiously filmed from a great distance, as though Kurosawa wanted to make sure the sense of sweep and grandeur is only a zoom out away. He’s canny enough to bookend his film with unforgettable first and last shots, but it wasn’t until Ran’s appropriation of Shakespeare that he found a way, in his late period, to successfully match show with tell.
August 21, 2009
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The energy of a passionate young artist and the genius of a mature master seem to reunite. The film is as much the triumph of the painter that Kurosawa had been as a youth as of the masterful playwright he had become. It also marks the beginning of the final chapter of his astonishing career as a director. Ran, Dreams, and the other works of his late years benefit from the intensely painterly approach to filmmaking he adopted in his long, painstaking preparations for Kagemusha.
August 18, 2009
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Though acclaimed as a magnificent return to form, Kurosawa’s first Japanese film since Dodes’ka-den is something of a disappointment… For all Kurosawa’s splendidly colourful recreation of 16th century Japan, and though Nakadai’s performance is impressive enough, it’s all rather empty and tedious; it could easily have been cut by almost an hour, while the grating Morricone-like score only serves to underline the fact that the director fails to achieve the emotional force of his finest work.
July 26, 2008
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