Appearing at first like a standard samurai movie, this Japanese film is a tragic drama with overtones from Japan’s classic theaters: Kabuki and Noh. Indeed, the protagonist’s unwitting self-destruction resembles that of Oedipus in Greek drama.
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I haven’t expected Pandemonium to be this boring, though at the dawn of my kinometric, kilowattching journey Matsumoto’s shorts used to delight. The film looks like a Siamese cat in that the pointed pattern in the breed is caused by a heat-sensitive, mutated enzyme that becomes active in a cat’s coldest body parts (extremities & head) and Shura funnily flares up where the filmed objects give off warmth: lamps, faces,
Matsumoto does his best to go through the mental process of tragedy on the screen, a lot of repetition, foreshadowing, and false voices. The film is schizophrenic not in the sense of multiple personalities or contrasting points of view but in the clinical sense of cognitive deterioration a constant humming of thoughts that aren't your own, confusion and aggression. Although in the end it is a game the demons play.
Thematically and stylistically taking place in endless night. "SHURA" is a tour de force samurai chamber film. It´s like Sam Peckinpah and Ingmar Bergman teamed up and did a samurai film. It´s as emotionally violent as it is gorgeous in style. The use of darkness and creative use of few set pieces, deletes all sensation of space, making it endlessly dark. This movie had me at the edge of my seat.
One of the best black and white ever seen on screen, shot with a wonderful taste with a great use of lights. The story is kind of a classic tragedy, desperate and claustrophobic: there are no open spaces, everything is plunged into darkness and the story is without hope. A masterpiece.
Toshi Mataumoto weaves many a warning and personal critique against the superficialities and shortcomings of our mortal world. All of this happens in.. a matter of about 2 and a half hours. Long, yes, but with intensely beautiful & dramatically executed shots, avant-garde editing choices and the kind of dedicated acting you can only find in Japanese films up until the 1980s... > http://tinyurl.com/cmvg8km