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Film of the Week #383: Akage AKA Red Lion (1969)
Impersonating an Imperial Army officer by wearing a "red lion's mane", a poor servant returns to his village after 10 years of absence to end the village's suffering caused by corrupt officials and businessmen.
#813 on 1000<400, with 150 checks.
Nominated by Traveller and blocho.
Here #813(⇧2238, #3051) Akage (1969)
Directed by: Kihachi Okamoto
(219.6 Pts, 5 Votes) , Top 1–10–50: 0–1–1
ICheckMovies: 144 Checks , 10 Favourites , 1 Official list
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This movie fits the current Japan Challenge.
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I don't know a lot about Japanese history, but from what I can tell this movie is set during the Meiji Restoration and depicts the conflict between the nascent emperor and the vestiges of the Tokugawa Shogunate. Mifune plays a simple peasant who joins a regiment fighting in support of the emperor. As the regiment advances near the village of his birth, he makes a plea to serve as a one-man vanguard. In order to do so, he borrows the odd red wig that serves as a marker of high rank.
What ensues is somewhere between farce and comedy of manners, though I wonder how much humor is lost in translation. Mifune, received initially as a joke, swiftly becomes embraced as a herald not merely of uprising but also of a new world order. The irony is that the character himself is a bumbling, stuttering illiterate, who revels in his false high status with vainglory. And then, oddly, the movie becomes very serious and something of a political drama. The conclusion, which I won't describe specifically, is bizarre and inscrutable, perhaps a sign of incipient revolution, perhaps a sign of mass mania.