Snow on the Blades

"Zakurozaka no adauchi" is submitted to the 2015 Seattle International Film Festival by Japan. This action-filled historical drama follows the single-minded efforts of a swordsman who failed to protect the Shogun's top minister. He spends the next 13 years trying to rectify his error while Japan modernizes around him.

Award-winning director Setsurô Wakamatsu, working from a short story by Jirô Asada, brings us a hero who is stubborn to a fault, with a lovely wife whose life is linked to his for better or for worse.

We see:
  • Kiichi Nakai as Shimura Kingo, the samurai whose dogged determination is probably his biggest flaw. He is honor-bound to do what's right.
  • Ryôko Hirosue brings us Setsu (I liked her in "Departures"), Shimura's wife. She is trying to support the two of them as he continues his quest, but times are changing in the last half of the 1800s and not many women buy kimonos anymore.
  • Hiroshi Abe is Naokichi. Even before we get to know this handsome fellow we can tell he's a nice man because of the way he interacts with the neighbor's little girl.
The cinematography is subdued, with occasional snowflakes drifting into the frame. We are on muddy roads, with either rainy or snowy weather, or having tea in chilly homes. I know Japanese jackets are often padded and I found myself hoping everyone was warm enough. Brrr....

This is the second Samurai-based film I have seen which acknowledges the women whose fates are tied to the warriors'. "Twilight Samurai" was the first.

One minor caveat: Do not eat a big meal before you see this one because the pace is so deliberate, you just might doze off!