Miyamoto Musashi Trilogy

Miyamoto Musashi (宮本武蔵; 1954)

Zoku Miyamoto Musashi: Ichijō-ji no Kettō (続宮本武蔵 一乗寺の決闘; 1955)

Miyamoto Musashi Kanketsuhen: Kettō Ganryū-jima (宮本武蔵完結編 決闘巌流島; 1956)

The three films are based on the historical novel Musashi by the Japanese writer Yoshikawa Eiji (1892-1962). It was first published in the Japanese daily newspaper Asahi Shimbun from 1935 to 1939. The main character is the historical Samurai Miyamoto Musashi. Many of the events mentioned in the novel really took place. Nevertheless, much remains fiction and is very different from the historical person Musashi.

1 Raid

Musashi (still known as Takezō) and his comrade Matahachi had been wounded in the battle and had fled to the lonely house of Oko and her daughter Akemi. After recovery, their paths separate. Matahachi stays with the women. However, the three have to flee because they are threatened by bandits. On the run, they meet bandits again. Matahachi expels the bandits killing one of them.

2 A samurai must follow his vocation

Musashi (still known as Takezō) was imprisoned at the castle for three years and is now purified. His mentor, the priest Takuan, gives him some advice. "The world is vast and boundless. Be staunch!" "Takezo, cut off the past!" "You are now a new man. Reborn."
Musashi still wants to say goodbye to his great love Otsu before he goes on an adventure. In the end, he steals from it and leaves only a carving on the bridge railing: ゆるしてたもれ - yurushite tamore - Forgive me!

3 Singing and dancing

4 Bigmouth wins

Musashi is on an adventure. In the meantime, a young squire has joined him. They come to Nara, where a tournament is taking place. The fighting monk Agon finds no more opponents and declares himself the winner. Unfortunately, the boy is a bit pretentious and calls the fighting monk "fat badger". The monk demands an immediate satisfaction. Only by the intervention of a wise monk a tragedy can be avoided.
Noteworthy is the monk's technique of slamming the rod of the lance out of the hands of the two opponents. Tohei Sensei taught a similar technique with Bokken against the Jo (of course only in case someone does not hold the Jo with Ki).

5 Bully and flycatcher

Musashi and his squire have descended in a somewhat run-down hostel. At dinner, they are disturbed by the noise generated by a crowd of gamblers in the foyer. The squire demands a little more silence. This infuriates the gamblers and their local boss, the horse dealer Kumagoro, builds himself up in front of Musashi and demands a written excuse. When he sees Musashi collecting the flies on the rice, on the clothes and in the air with the chopsticks, he is impressed. In the end, he wants to become a student of Musashi.

Movie data

Title: Samurai-Trilogy
Original Title: Miyamoto Musashi
Published: 1954 - 1956
Time: 303 minutes

Director: Hiroshi Inagaki
Script: Hiroshi Inagaki
Production: Kazuo Takimura
Music: Ikuma Dan

Toshirō Mifune: Takezō
Rentarō Mikuni: Matahachi
Kuroemon Onoe: Takuan Sōhō
Kaoru Yachigusa: Otsu
Mariko Okada: Akemi

A milestone in Japanese postwar social development.

2009 by foxfirebrand
The importance of the Miyamo Musashi saga has been lost somewhat today, even in Japan. These were not just early high-quality color samurai movies, not just great films. They were a nationwide event, and a milestone in Japanese social evolution. The early 50s were a time of postwar healing, and there were unsettled questions about the national character. The Miyamoto Musashi saga used the past to dramatize issues of morality and, even more important at the time, morale.
Japan had no problem westernizing and living under the rule of law under terms imposed by victors in war. The knotty issue was, how much of the past do we keep alive in our daily thoughts and actions, and just how much of the real Japan, the one we remember, will our children and grandchildren inherit, once the aftermath of global war has subsided? Watch these films with such then-important issues in mind, and your experience will be deepened and enriched.
All three episodes are directed by Hiroshi Inagaki and star Toshiro Mifune as Miyamoto-san, in a performance that is perfection. Miyamoto Musashi shows the young samurai aspirant as a hot-headed, imperfect man, neither hero nor monster. But possessed of a fierce dark force that could impel him toward either outcome. The question of women looms large in this trilogy. How to treat them, what kind of woman to honor and what kind to avoid, and just how the diametrically-opposite traits of women work in the world, whether at odds or in harmony with those of men. All these issues are played out without preachiness, in the actions of real people, well-drawn characters whom we meet and get to know before the episode ends in a series of parting of ways.