The propaganda aspect isn't that distracting, since the conservative die-for-the-emperor is a staple of period pieces like this - it's certainly less depressing than the kind of things Naruse was sometimes given during the war. Any other director would've made a cheap programmer and slept just fine; Mizoguchi gives us 70 minutes of cinematic beauty. Yamada Isuzu, in her final Mizoguchi film, wields a mean sword.
This propaganda piece is a beautiful film visually (as always with Mizoguchi) but the propaganda is very very overt and really not done in a subtle way (as opposed to the great The 47 Ronin). Mizoguchi probably wasn't too keen on making this one but at the time it was probably just about the only kind of film he could make. Visually excellent but that's about it. 3/5