Samurai III: Duel at Ganryu Island (1956)

Samurai III: Duel at Ganryu Island (Miyamoto Musashi kanketsuhen: kettô Ganryûjima)samurai-iii-duel-at-ganryu-island-la-locandina-del-film-278277
Directed by Hiroshi Inagaki
Written by Hiroshi Inagaki and Tokuhei Wakao from a play by Hideiji Hojo and a novel by Eiji Yoshikawa
1956/Japan
Toho Company
Repeat viewing/Netflix rental

Musashi Miyamoto: Brace up, Akemi.
“A duel, whether regarded as a ceremony in the cult of honour, or even when reduced in its moral essence to a form of manly sport, demands a perfect singleness of intention, a homicidal austerity of mood.” ― Joseph Conrad, A Set Of Six

There are a couple of gorgeously shot and spectacular sword fights in the last installment of the Musashi Miyamoto trilogy.  They are the highlights of the film.

Musashi Miyamoto (Toshiro Mifune) has continued on his quest to perfect his sword fighting and improve his character.  His rival Sasaki Kojira is itching for a fight.  They meet and eventually set up a fight for the following year.  Miyamoto retreats to a village where he works as a humble farmer.  Lady love Otsu finally locates him there.

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In the meantime, Otsu’s rival Akemi has hooked up with Kojiro.  She is still pining for Miyamoto however and eventually takes off to try to find him.  There is a face off between Otsu and Akemi.  What will be left for Musashi after he tests himself with the only worthy rival remaining in Japn?

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The title duel takes place on the shores of an island at sunset and is extremely beautiful as well as exciting.  It’s the reason I rank this picture ahead of the two prior films.  Toshiro Mifune is excellent but is not given the complexity that Kurosawa offered for this character.

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