The Twilight Samurai ★★★★★

6/100 movies watched in 2020

"Father, If I learn to do needlework someday I can make kimonos. But what good will book learning ever do me?"
"Well, it probably won't ever be as useful as needlework. But you know, book learning gives you the power to think. However the world might change, if you have the power to think you'll always survive somehow. That's true for boys and for girls. Alright?"
" Yes."

This movie was on my list for a while, but it moved way up the list when my friend described it as "a samurai version of Unforgiven." Unforgiven is my favorite Western of all time, and I love samurai movies. It worked out perfectly.

I couldn't come up with a better description if I tried. Unforgiven is the story of a badass outlaw forsaking his life of peace to do one last job; Twilight Samurai is the story of a peaceful samurai forced into violence. This version of the story, however, is much more character-driven than action given, and I really enjoyed it. It's a great take on this classic narrative.

At the end of the day I feel these films both force the viewers to really examine the respective genres: we've been telling cowboy and samurai stories since cowboys and samurai have existed, and being so far removed from the actual history we can't help but idealized these characters and events; the comparison is even more interesting when you consider how cowboy and samurai films have built off of each other over the years.

However, the stark reality is that they were particularly violent and bloody periods of human history that had occasional great moments, and any period of human history is full of people doing their best to live peaceful and successful lives despite circumstances beyond their control. This to me is the emotional core of the film.

Twilight Samurai deserves to be in any conversation of great samurai movies.

PS I had to buy this Blu Ray from Hong Kong and the other two movies in Yoji Yamada's Samurai Trilogy are near impossible to find.