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16 February 2006

Ronin fixes his sandal on a Go board before getting back to business

Ronin Adjusting His Sandal
Oban print by Kuniyoshi,
published by Ebiya Rinnosuke, 1847.

In Japanese art there is no more powerful symbol of domestic peace and serenity than a Go board (Goban) with a game in progress in the household.

After their Lord was assassinated, his retinue of 47 samurai became Ronin -- wandering free-lance warriors who would take any violent job for pay. But secretly they swore to search the land for the enemies who had murdered their Lord, and finally tracked them down. The ferocious battle that ensued -- on 14 December 1702 -- is one of the greatest of all samurai stories.

In this depiction of the final battle, samurai Onodera Koemon Hidetomi pauses in the midst of the slaughter to calmly fix his sandal on a Goban knocked over, scattering the stones, in the murderous frenzy.

After their last enemy was dead, the Ronin were brought to justice and allowed to commit seppuku (ritual suicide) to atone for their failure to protect their Lord.

~ ~ ~

And you can Rent The DVD!

There are thousands of violent movies, nearly all worthless and forgettable, but "Ronin" (1998) is a remarkable exception, directed by John Frankenheimer, and co-written (under a pseudonym) by the playwright David Mamet. It stars Robert deNiro, and about half the film takes place in the French city of Arles, where Vincent Van Gogh spent his last years. I'm not telling you anything else about it, except that it's very exciting, and doesn't make you feel ashamed to be watching it.


Blogger Abbas Halai said...

are you a fan of akira kurosawa at all? one of my favourite directors.

Blogger Bob Merkin said...

Yo abbas salaam (wazzat in PK?) howdy salut & all that good stuph

You got to Vleeptron a bit late (V is MORE THAN ONE YEAR OLD NOW!) but Frequent Visitors know that when you take the Zeta Beam from Earth to Vleeptron, after your Zap thru the Kosmos to the Dwingeloo-2 Galaxy, you arrive at the AKIRA KUROSAWA MEMORIAL ZETA BEAM DROME in Ciuidad Vleeptron.

Everybody on Vleeptron is WILD about Akira Kurosawa! And here's why:

There's a chance you haven't seen one or maybe two of these Kurosawa movies -- in which cast, Prepare for the Usual Delicious Eyebal & Brain & Heart Treats!

But did you see "Ronin"? I thought it was just superb and absolutely thrilling! Clearly it was Frankenheimer's homage to Kurosawa.

One of the USA's most powerful and interesting screenwriters is Paul Schrader, who co-wrote "The Yakuza" starring Robert Mitchum, directed by Sidney Pollack. It's pretty obvious that Kurosawa just inspires many of Hollywood's best not just to make cheap K. knockoffs, but to make homages that are great movies on their own.

Blogger Abbas Halai said...

yojimbo and rashomon and the seven samurai, the hidden fortress are ranked as four of some of the best films i've ever seen. and yeah i've seen ronin. criterion ownership. heh. anything that inspires clint eastwood westerns (fistfull of dollars, magnificent seven) and lucas to make something like star wars is genius. heh and i've seen a lot of film. you'd be surprised my friend. and yeah, it's salam in pakistan as well. or rather assalam walaikum if you want to be complete. or if you want to be really complete, assalam alaikum warahimtoolah hay wabarakatahu. heh.


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