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Twilight Samurai

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Twilight Samurai

“The Twilight Samurai” (2002) received 12 awards from the Japanese Film Academy and a US Academy Award nomination. This movie tells the story of a low-rank samurai in late nineteenth century Japan as he struggles to raise two children after his wife dies. The movie portrays his life against the backdrop of a country in transition from Samurai culture to a more centralized government and modern lifestyle. The Samurai faces mockery at work for his busy lifestyle and struggles with his increasingly demented mother, but maintains a strong bond with his daughters.
In the background we learn of the apparatus of provincial Japanese society administering justice and maintaining the social order. Gradually we glimpse a larger struggle going on in Japan and hear of an approaching civil war. The Samurai is caught up in that war by virtue of his status in life, and he performs heroically. He remarries a childhood sweetheart and dies as his children near adulthood. The movie ends with one daughter describing her father's virtues.
The movie describes vividly the intersection of everyday life with big historical issues. It could be used to illustrate Japanese feudalism and the transition to national monarcy or to contrast with European feudalism.