Friday, 9 December 2016

Nobunaga no Hitsugi (2006)

Here I am again!
Today I'll review this movie, that despite the title is not focused on our favourite warlord, but rather on his vassal, Gyuichi Ota, and his compilation of the glorious Chronicle of Lord Nobunaga ("Shichoukoki"), our favourite biography of Oda Nobunaga.
The movie is based on the historical novel of the same title by Hiroshi Kato, dated 2005. It was a huge bestseller, as you can guess by the movie rendition in the span of a year!
The direction of the movie was entrusted to Haruhiko Mimura and the script was adapted by Shoukei Nagasaka.

This is indeed a fictional work, but it offers many interesting insights to the involved characters and events and it was a really entertaining watch!
It can be considered an investigation movie in a Sengoku setting, as Ota, the protagonist, occupied with the task to compile an accurate biography of his beloved lord, recently dead in the Honnoji Accident, gets obsessed with solving the mystery of Nobunaga's body, that couldn't be found among the ruins of the temple.
The result is a moving portrait of a faithful retainer, and an epic about the compilation of the Shinchokoki in all its parts.
Obviously it's a fictional work and there are indeed some flaws, but at least it was a nice watch!

Let's rush immediately to the portrait of Nobunaga in this movie.
The actor is Masahiro Matsuoka, who is, apparently, another average pretty boy idol! Investigating his career, though, I found a good number of jidaigeki roles: he showed up in the Hideyoshi taiga drama of 1996 as Ranmaru, on a TV movie rendition of Fuurinkazan as Shingen nonetheless and on the MUSHASHI taiga drama of 2003 as Kojiro Sasaki!
The director Mimura apparently knew him well: he starred in at least two of his movies, Godzilla Final Wars and Yaoh:

Actually, he doesn't have that much of screentime, and his portrayal of Nobunaga is kinda vapid... Yet, after watching so many imitations of videogames character that was refreshing!
I gotta say that he doesn't act like a young guy would do... He reminded me of the old Nobus from the '60s, when actors were still trying to find their way despite the heritage of the Noh's stylizations.

--I really dig that kimono with the tiger's print XD

Speaking of the actual protagonists of the movie, Gyuichi Ota was played by Matsumoto Koshiro IX (ok, it's official, my favourite Japanese actors are those coming from Noh theatre XD):
He's your detective writer with an obsession over Nobunaga, ahah.
It was really entertaining following his thoughts. I think that the adaptation from the novel missed some bits for time limits, but I didn't see any obvious flaw in this character and the acting of Matsumoto IX.

On the other side, our discreet antagonist, good ol' Hideyoshi played by yet another Noh celebrity, Nakamura Baijaku II:
The acting was fitting the role of the character, which was the one of the ambitious man playing the role of the fool. I found it quite cool that during his first years of rule he copied the mannerism and expressions of Nobunaga!

Getting back to the interesting parts of the movie, I really enjoyed the parts about Azuchi Castle:

The movie suggest the idea that Nobunaga built it as amazing and glamorous because he wanted to invite the Emperor over and gave him a view worth his majesty.
It's also hinted that Nobukatsu burned the castle down. When Ota heard that he was shocked! ...The magnificent castle of his lord, erased for ever.

The movie talks about the fact that since Nobunaga's body couldn't be retrieved, Hideyoshi made a statue of sandalwood to burn in place of the actual corpse, during his fabulous Nobunaga's funeral in Kyoto:
That's quite true.
The statues were two: one was burned, and the other was kept for the processions of the memorial services. This is still preserved in Soken'in temple, at Daitoku-ji... I managed to saw that during my trip to Kyoto.

The movie ends with the revelation of the "true" location of Nobunaga's memorial...
Fun fact, in the movie Ota talks with this priest of Amida-ji who tried to kill Nobunaga but failed, and ultimately took care of Nobunaga's corpse so to let the head of his temple, Seigyoku, a long-time friend of Nobu, to celebrate a decent funeral for him.
Hideyoshi tried to claim Nobunaga's body for his funeral at Daitoku-ji but Seigyoku refused to comply, as he disapproved of Hideyoshi's political intrigues.
This was all mentioned in the movie, and I found it quite cool.
Today the Amida-ji is known as one of the three sites hosting the real ashes of Nobunaga.

All in all, a good movie, that taught us how the people we love must be nurtured through memory, rather than the "idolatry" of their remains... This is how our beloved ones will survive their death, becoming truly immortal...

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