Toshiro Mifune, Yoko Tsukasa, Go Kato, Tatsuya Nakadai,
“Rebellion” is the fitting original title of this relentless social portrait of those who demand subservience, and those who have had enough. A magisterial Toshiro Mifune slow-burns his way through the role of dutiful samurai Sasahara—henpecked by his wife and dominated by his lord—whose attempts to be a “good servant” are about to end. “You retreat, and retreat,” says his friend Asano (Tatsuya Nakadai), “until finally you attack.” Rare for the genre, the film’s plot is set in motion by a woman, one whose willful stand against injustice inspires the men to act. All fine geometric lines, confined castle spaces, and neatly sculpted patterns of order, Samurai Rebellion finally rebels and, like Sasahara, attacks, exploding in rage against the becalmed, emotionless regime that has come before. Effective or not, it is the act of rebellion, Kobayashi implies, that matters. Toru Takemitsu provides the film’s modernist score, a perfect match to Kazuo Yamada’s haunting widescreen imagery.