(“Japanese Sword Story”)
Production: Japan, 1957
Director: Asano Tatsuo
Category: Documentary/Martial Arts
Sacred film dedicated to the samurai sword, showing its crafting, its many uses, and its cultural and symbolic significance, all accompanied by spiralling Wagnerian music. It was the Japanese sword that allowed the Shogun’s samurai to engage and decimate the Mongol invaders of 1274 at close quarters, turning the waters of Hakata Bay red and leaving a glorious two-mile rampart of piled heads, limbs and entrails along the beachhead. Asano’s film is a paean to imperialistic values, a love-poem to military traditions and the way of the samurai which inspired the writer Yukio Mishima to take up arms in the 60s. Visual veneration of the samurai sword, or katana, in Japanese art dates back as far as the ukiyo-e (woodblock prints) of the 19th century, for example Kuniyoshi’s 1847 series Sayetate No Uchi Kitai No Wazamono (“Master Blades Of Death”), which glorified Japan’s greatest sword-makers by name alongside scenes of decapitation, blood and carnage.

Posted by Lady Belladonna

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