Many times I find transferred reflections of two separate genres coalesce into one that made us wonder which genre influences which! ‘Western’ and ‘Samurai’ cinema is a case study in this regard. My first Hideo Gosha film so distinctly reflects this- the horses, the revenge, the return of hero, duel fight, Morricone kind of background score and a loner protagonist. And along with all this, as per its title (Goyokin: official silver and gold) it portrays the theme of greed for gold, quite a set-up for many of westerns. Infact, as per Wikipedia, in 1975, a western titled ‘The Master Gunfighter’ is influenced from this film.
It’s hypnotic and intriguing to watch crows in the opening ten minutes of the film that reminds you Hitchcock’s ‘The Birds’. A young lady returns to her village home, a shack on lone island and witness severed head of his father. Tatsuya Nakadai is a reclusive ronin named Magobei Wakisaka who turned blind eyes three years ago to Sabai domain’s tyrannical kamikakushi event that murdered every last person in fishing village. Now he decides to return to finish Sabai domain but the men were ready to kill him as soon as steps his feet on land. It has emotional side too where Wakisaka’s wife’s brother is on opposite side along with a sub plot of a young girl whose family and fiancé murdered in the Kamikakushi three years ago. Along with existential and moral story between the way of samurai, it also has an interesting plot of gold greed that divert and sink the sheep full of gold bars in sea. It happens every fall during its course of journey route and it also adds thrilling adventure action in the later part of the film with grand climax.
Once again Nakadai is in brilliant form and he’s the spirit of the film. The film has well etched characters with fine support of antagonist Tatewaki (Tetsuro Tamba), Samon (Kinnosuke Nakamura), the queer helping hand of Wakisaka and beautiful Oriha (Rurika Asaoka). It has innovatively shot and brilliantly choreographed sword action and the snow clad hilly locales in color gives its chilly edge of mystery and atmospheric tension. Simultaneous action of masked devils beating drum beats and final duel between Nakadai and Tamba is surely highlight of the film.
Absolutely love it…looking forward to more of Gosha.