Senshin: The Enlightened Mind

Martial Arts Blog

normrobitza On December - 28 - 2013

A few people have been asking me if I am going to see the 47 Ronin. The answer is of course but I also told them to look for the original 47 Ronin films.

47roninThe Keanu Reeves movie that is making its rounds through the theatres right now is a fantasized story based on the true story of the Loyal 47 Ronin. The story took place in Japan at the start of the 18th century. The story is of a group of samurai who were left leaderless (becoming ronin) after their daimyo (feudal lord) Asano Naganori was compelled to commit seppuku (ritual suicide) for assaulting a court official named Kira Yoshinaka, whose title was Kōzuke no suke. The ronin avenged their master’s honor by killing Kira, after waiting and planning for almost two years. In turn, the ronin were themselves obliged to commit seppuku for committing the crime of murder. With much embellishment, this true story was popularized in Japanese culture as emblematic of the loyalty, sacrifice, persistence, and honor that people should preserve in their daily lives. The popularity of the tale grew during the Meiji era of Japanese history, in which Japan underwent modernization, and the legend became subsumed within discourses of national heritage and identity.

The tale has been told and retold in films, plays, operas, comic books and much more. These accounts of the events are known as the Chūshingura (The Treasury of Loyal Retainers). The 47 Ronin are revered in Japanese culture. The men are considered the most famous example of the samurai code of honor, bushidō.

This is a trailer from a 1994 retelling for the story.

47-Ronin-Keanu_Reeves-Poster-005The new film starring Keanu Reeves is a retelling that is more fantasy based. The back drop to the film is the story of the 47 Ronin. The outcast Kai (Reeves), illegitimate son of a British sailor and a Japanese peasant woman, joins a group of Ronin, led by Kuranosuke Oishi (Hiroyuki Sanada), who seeks vengeance on Lord Kira (Tadanobu Asano), a ruthless man who killed their master and banished the group. The Ronin embark on a journey with challenges that would defeat most warriors.

My greatest concern is that people will see this film and not know the true tale of these men. Hopefully, this film will introduce many to the tale of what is believed to be some of the most loyal men in Japanese history.

Categories: Book/Video Reviews

One Response

  1. Monroe says:

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