Kagemusha (1980)

“Kagemusha” (1980)



film as canvas

I watched my first Kurosawa 7 years ago. I’m 24 so that’s a relevant amount of time. Still, i feel i’m a beginner, also because i only have a couple years of seriously watching films, learning them and from them. So i’ll comment more like an approach, for sure naive, but to fix some ideas i got from this first watching of Kagemusha.


-Kurosawa works like a painter. It is well known that he painted most of what he shot, and that helped him create in the mind what he would bring to the eye. The paintings are in themselves worth seeing; an extra in the DVD had an editing with dialogs in the film over posing the storyboard, in the order they show in the film. It’s a good experience just by itself. So we have shots perfectly and exquisitely taken care. The composition is great, balanced as only a good artist would make;

-in a way, this is the first Kurosawa film in colour, because it is the first one in which he truly works with it and makes it part of the composition. The previous experiences in color could work as well in b&w. Not here. I noticed how the colours carry the actions, how the perfectly balanced frames get alive because of the colours. The skies are amazing, of course, and the dream in the clouds as well. The artificial environment of it makes the film look sketchy, as it was in fact, for it is known that Kurosawa was preparing the big project (Ran)

-The editing was great; The framing he gives is mostly still, his eye works like that of a painter, but the editing sequences all shots perfectly and it makes us believe that after one certain shot, the only possible shot that makes the thing work is the next one. It’s a sublime structure, solid as a rock, and if you work mentally you’ll see you wouldn’t take anything or put anything. Kurosawa might. I guess that the editing was a mental process for him, he would beautifully paint the storyboard, but in his mind he would also build the editing scheme. That’s why he could edit by night what he’d shot during the day

-the story is, as many, about actors acting. The role of a leader has in itself lots to do with acting. That need to seat in battle, not moving, not showing fear, is showing something to the surrogates, and to the enemies, which may not correspond to the truth. Here we have a double pretending to be that leader.

-Coppola and Lucas deserve being thanked for allowing this to happen. However, when they speak it’s clear that Coppola is much more aware of what the film and the work of Kurosawa is about, while Lucas is bedazzled but the visible effects. This is meaningful. I never made a film, i which i could, but i don’t think creating one has so much to do with what lenses you use, or how you manage multiple cameras shots as much as it has to do with what you want to say (and how). The first issue is technical. The second moves with your soul. That’s why, of the both, Coppola was the one who recognized the global flaws of this good film – breathtaking if you think of it as a table of experiences, the canvas of a painter.

My opinion: 4/5

This comment on IMDb


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