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Kagemusha
Japan - 1980
Directed by Akira Kurosawa


Set in 16th century Japan, this film is a colorful masterpiece, with some of the best sets and costumes we've seen.  The story follows a feudal lord who has chosen to bequeath his kingdom to his grandson, an act which causes his adult son, who had been the heir apparent, to resent his father greatly.  The lord's brother brings before him a man who he has snatched from the executioner's blade because of the uncanny resemblance he has for the master.  It is decided that the man could make a useful "double" to fool the enemies of the lord, a practice that was, apparently, not unusual among the rival warlords.  When the lord is fatally wounded, he instructs his ministers to keep his death a secret for 3 years and to make no attacks against their enemies during this time.  Holding the clans creed "Wind - Fire - Mountain - Forest", he admonished the leaders to be the immovable "mountain" during the 3 year period.  We explore the dilemma of the "double", who learns that he must lose himself if he will effectively replace his master. 

Akira Kurosawa won the Golden Palm from the Cannes Film Festival (1980) for Kagemusha, which was also nominated for a Golden Globe for Best Foreign Film (1981).  Kagemusha received Oscar nominations for Best Foreign Language Film and for Best Art Direction/Set Decoration (1981).

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