Directed by Takashi Koizumi
Hawaii International Film Festival 2020
Japan Film Festival Brussels 2021
Japan Society 2021
Takako Matsu, Tatsuya Nakadai, Koji Yakusho
Shochiku Co., Ltd.
After three centuries of peaceful isolation, the foreign ships have arrived and broken Japan’s spell of solitude. As the nation moves inexorably towards the Imperial restoration and a new era as a modern, globally engaged state, it is torn by conflict and chaos. Deeply rooted beliefs are clashing. Japan is split, East from West, and civil war is brewing. Trapped between these Imperialist and Shogunate forces is the Nagaoka domain in central Echigo province, site of the strategically vital Enoki Pass. Tsuginosuke Kawai, chief retainer to Lord Makino, wishes fervently that the people of Nagaoka be spared the horrors of war, and advocates neutrality and negotiation. A canny and perceptive man, Kawai nonetheless assures that the domain is well armed. His wisdom and discipline, and his love for his family and his fief, make him a sturdy rock amid the raging currents around them, but can even he resist the torrential rush of history?
Long awaited by aficionados, historical novelist Shiba Ryotaro’s bestselling 1968 book Touge has at last been adapted for the big screen. Director Takashi Koizumi has proven a skilled hand at crafting thoughtful and assured jidaigeki, the period dramas for which Japanese cinema is renowned, keeping the classic form fresh and effective right to this day. He learned from the best, of course, over almost three decades as assistant director to the master himself, Akira Kurosawa, working on such essential titles as RAN and KAGEMUSHA. The star of those films, Tatsuya Nakadai, appears in THE PASS, but it’s the charismatic Koji Yakusho (13 ASSASSINS, BABEL, SHALL WE DANCE?) who commands attention throughout this gripping, heartfelt reflection on what it is to be a samurai, in principle and in practice. – Rupert Bottenberg
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