REBELLION , directed by Masaki Kobayashi and starring Toshiro Mifune, is a gripping historical melodrama centered on a family that serves the local overlord (daimyo). The overlord demands that this vassal family accept for their elder son his own castoff wife. The family agrees but under protest by the family husband and father, played by Mifune. Adding injury to this insult, the overlord later demands his wife back. By this time she and the elder son have a child and are a happy family, and the son has been made head of all the family by his father. But the father takes charge again and refuses to give up the daughter-in-law. SPOILER ALERT:He persuades his son to join his protest and to reject the overlord’s demand for their suicide.
This simple plot is given almost unbearable tension as it is played out against the harsh and crisscrossing black and white lines of eighteenth century dwellings, courtyards and minipalaces — and played out against a striking and suspenseful score (art direction by Yoshiro Muraki, music by Toru Takemitsu).
And this simple plot is given psychological depth by the director’s handling of a good cast all round and by the subtlety of Mifune’s face, gestures and posture. This almost-unknown-in-America film offers one of his towering perfomances. This actor is one of the greatest stars of all time. If any reader is unfamiliar with him, get to work now. REBELLION, usually titled Samurai Rebellion in America, is available from the TCM store and from amazon. You can also look for it to be shown again eventually by Turner Classic Movies.
screenplay by Shinobu Hashimoto*
from a novel by Yasuhiko Takiguchi
*with Kurosawa, wrote the screenplay for Rashomon
NEXT POST Friday September 7
Until then, see you at the movies,