Tatsuya Nakadai (Takeda Kagemusha), Tsutomu Yamazaki (Katsuyori), Kenichi Hagiwara (Son), Kota Yui (Takemaru), Hideji Otaki (Yamagata), Hideo Murata (Baba), Daisuke Ryu (Oda), Kaori Momoi (Otsuyanokata).
After a long period of inactivity, Akira Kurosawa returned to the genre of which he is the unequivocal master, the samurai film, with KAGEMUSHA. Tatsuya Nakadai plays a 16th-century warlord, Shingen Takeda, who uses doubles for himself on the battlefield, instilling confidence and fear through his constant presence while his clan fights to establish dominance in Japan. When he is killed, his cur¬rent "shadow warrior," or kagemusha—in actuality a petty thief (again powerfully played by Tatsuya Nakadai)—must take over so that the army's morale will not die. Trained in secret by Shingen's assistants, the man genuinely begins to acquire some of his master's attributes, but is eventually exposed as a fake and banished from court. In the final, climactic battle, however, the deposed kagemusha is unable to restrain himself and grabs the clan's standard, rushing into the fray. Kurosawa's epic is alive with color, the spectacular visuals overlying a somber exploration of tradi¬tionalism, loyalty, and identity, played out against a tapes¬try of political intrigue and the 16th-century clan warfare that came to an end with the Tokugawa shogunate. The
massive battle scenes rank with the director's best, using brilliant color and contrasts of light amidst the enormous cast with great style. Made and distributed with the finan¬cial aid and clout of George Lucas and Francis Ford Coppola, KAGEMUSHA prefigured and paved the way for the great RAN (1985), Kurosawa's epic adaptation of "King Lear." (In Japanese; with English subtitles.)
p, Akira Kurosawa and Masato Ide; d, Akira Kurosawa; w, Akira Kurosawa and Masato Ide; ph, Takao Saito, Shoji Ueda, Kazuo Miyagawa, and Asaichi Nakai, Eastmancolor; m, Shinichiro Ikebe