Kagemusha ★★★½

A rigorously crafted & intimately narrated feudal epic that's truly ambitious in scope, Kagemusha is memorable for its striking use of colours, era-appropriate set pieces & large-scale battle formations and also benefits from its interesting protagonist but the stillness of its plot, inconsistent pacing & daunting runtime does make the ride a bit tedious & overlong.

Co-written & directed by Akira Kurosawa, the script features a fascinating premise which the esteemed auteur brings to life in broad brushstrokes & vivid display of technical craftsmanship. And though he takes his time to acquaint the audience with the political turmoil of the depicted era, there are stretches in the final print that the story could've done without.

The film is at its most gripping when it is entirely focused on the political decoy act that unfolds at its centre, and its progress & development is compelling throughout. Tatsuya Nakadai is committed to his dual roles, playing the lord with assertiveness and is even better as the imposter, rendering his vulnerability & alertness with flair. Rest are just as devoted and chip in with solid inputs.

Overall, Kagemusha is a technically accomplished production that makes the most of its extensive canvas but the storytelling isn't on par with Kurosawa's best-known works. Most fans won't really mind the patient approach & occasional meanderings but there is a lot in here that could've been shortened or edited out without harming the narrative flow. All in all, this jidaigeki is beautiful to look at but it is also a slog at times.

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