ALL3920 Week 14

| 22 Comments

This week's film is Nemuri Kiyoshiro 3 (Sleepy Eyes of Death 3).
Position papers please.

22 Comments

Nemuri Kiyoshiro, while exemplifying the advancement of Japanese cinema at its release in 1964, was not particularly the most enjoyable, in my opinion. This is not to degrade any aspect of the film itself, however. I paid more attention to performance details than becoming intrigued by set structure, costumes, and character appearance. Initially, I took notice of Kiyoshiro’s unique fighting style: full moon circle. I thought Kiyoshiro’s presence became heightened especially during his fight scenes. I thought the performer’s portrayal of the character was simply bad ass, especially the certainty and accuracy articulated by Kiyoshiro of his sword craft.
I thought Kiyoshiro’s character resounded with insight; he seemed to understand the reality of his paradigm exceedingly beyond that of the physical pettiness instilled within the other characters’ mindsets. His slayings seemed to deliberately be for benefit of others’ existences, compared to Takayuki; slaying those deemed below his consciousness simply for its thrill. Takayuki’s vicious, ruthless nature really stood out to me. He seemed to constantly feel this unresolved aggression, perhaps instigated from being parented through those very characteristics presented by his mother. Takayuki’s motives initially appear to be instilled in him from his mother, but as the film progressed, he seemed to justify his own motives before his mother’s will. Near the end of the movie, Takayuki exclaimed to Kiyoshiro, “Your evil life will end tonight,” yet this phrase suggests Takayuki has no perception of his place within the grand scheme of existence. He seemed to presume his actions are righteous and justified through his social position, when in fact his character acted in a manner which implied a lower level of worldly consciousness than that of a peasant.
Cinematically speaking, I thought the scenes closer to the movie’s end were, specifically where Kiyoshiro is about to battle an assassin hired for his killing in this foggy wood, what really brought out the presence of the film’s whole. There was a looming beauty to the fog as it enveloped itself around the trees. The initial shot began near the treetops and descended toward Earth in a humbling manner, capturing onto the performers. Beyond this scene and throughout the entire film I took great notice of the framing of the performers. Their placement in relation to each other really enhanced their close presence, tying the story and character connections together.

Nemuri Kiyoshiro, while exemplifying the advancement of Japanese cinema at its release in 1964, was not particularly the most enjoyable, in my opinion. This is not to degrade any aspect of the film itself, however. I paid more attention to performance details than becoming intrigued by set structure, costumes, and character appearance. Initially, I took notice of Kiyoshiro’s unique fighting style: full moon circle. I thought Kiyoshiro’s presence became heightened especially during his fight scenes. I thought the performer’s portrayal of the character was simply bad ass, especially the certainty and accuracy articulated by Kiyoshiro of his sword craft.
I thought Kiyoshiro’s character resounded with insight; he seemed to understand the reality of his paradigm exceedingly beyond that of the physical pettiness instilled within the other characters’ mindsets. His slayings seemed to deliberately be for benefit of others’ existences, compared to Takayuki; slaying those deemed below his consciousness simply for its thrill. Takayuki’s vicious, ruthless nature really stood out to me. He seemed to constantly feel this unresolved aggression, perhaps instigated from being parented through those very characteristics presented by his mother. Takayuki’s motives initially appear to be instilled in him from his mother, but as the film progressed, he seemed to justify his own motives before his mother’s will. Near the end of the movie, Takayuki exclaimed to Kiyoshiro, “Your evil life will end tonight,” yet this phrase suggests Takayuki has no perception of his place within the grand scheme of existence. He seemed to presume his actions are righteous and justified through his social position, when in fact his character acted in a manner which implied a lower level of worldly consciousness than that of a peasant.
Cinematically speaking, I thought the scenes closer to the movie’s end were, specifically where Kiyoshiro is about to battle an assassin hired for his killing in this foggy wood, what really brought out the presence of the film’s whole. There was a looming beauty to the fog as it enveloped itself around the trees. The initial shot began near the treetops and descended toward Earth in a humbling manner, capturing onto the performers. Beyond this scene and throughout the entire film I took great notice of the framing of the performers. Their placement in relation to each other really enhanced their close presence, tying the story and character connections together.

Nemuri Kyoshiro was pretty entertaining as a film. I found the comparison between Nemuri and Superman an interesting one—with Superman as a flawless example of goodness, and Nemuri as a figure who stood for good but with a lot of grayness. And while this comparison mostly harped on their dissimilarities, I found that Nemuri’s talent with a sword, though, again, highly entertaining, was seldom much of a nerve-wracking experience. His effortless successes, coupled with his smugness, made even the “tense” scenes significantly less so. The music didn’t help. This film’s score was more noticeable—which is to say, less accompanimental—than those of other films. The sudden swells of strings during abrupt deaths or action sequences; the loud rolls of drums or trumpets; the piercing string sections… It might have taken me out of the experience if I didn’t find myself laughing at most of the film already. And not necessarily in a bad way. His effortless kills were rather comical; his smugness made the villains laughable; his commentaries were often overtly humorous, if sometimes darkly so. For instance, when he was walking up the wide staircase in the middle of the forest (or at least with trees on either side), and was all of a sudden accosted by a group of would-be assassins, he simply picks up his pace and slices right through the crowd, slashing and killing until he’s broken through the group, whereupon he can slow back to his walking pace, sheathe his sword, and continue on, while all the survivors of the brief skirmish flee in fear. I can’t honestly believe this movie was intended to keep the audience on the edge of its collective seat. And for that, I found it entertaining.

Nemuri Kiyoshiro

This film is by far most interesting. Its quiet different from the films we’ve watched previously and seems more modern. The scene where they cut off the farmer’s head in the beginning is quiet gruesome however using the severed head prop put a very nice touch to the film. The costumes that are used in this film an extremely elegant. This is different because we get to see the full colored details of the clothing. The details in the place and setting of the film is great. The main prop however, is the sword. In the film it seems as though it is most important. Kiyoshiro’s personality is what you would expect from a samurai. He is honorable in many aspects. He considers his sword his soul and chooses not to have a master. It is quiet ironic how Takayuki’s mother talks about samurai who have forgotten the way, when her own son does not follow it either. Samurai are portrayed as bad men in this movie, mostly for treating people unwell and such. The peasants seem to hate them the most however; they seem to be pushed by the oldest woman in the group. Lastly, the fight scenes in this film were most exciting. They make Kiyoshiro have a lot of skills and strength. There is a lot if “artistic” movement to their battles. Kiyoshiro’s movements are quick and cut through his enemies quickly.

There a few transitions in this film. The majority is cut to the next scene. In the scene where Kiyoshiro takes advantage of the girl, you can see that the camera does a close up of his face and you can see his intent. Then they cut to a close up of her face and you can clearly see that she is scared. There is a scene after the rain fall where the camera shoots the water falling off the roof and you can see in the corner a small spider claiming up, this scene is quite tranquil.

Nemuri Kyoshiro gave me the feeling of looming darkness. The soundtrack was overall frightening, and the use of shadows contributed to this feeling. There was extreme use of shadow in this movie. I was used to darken room and also to darken peoples’ faces. The opening was a little creepy with all the stone crosses. The first scene adds to the feeling of darkness when Tajuu’s dad got his head chopped off. I was mortified to see Tajuu hug his father’s decapitated head.
There were a lot of characters in this movie. I really liked Tsuru, the little girl. She was very cute! I also liked Tajuu because even though he was weak, he was brave and kind.
I thought Kyoshiro’s haircut was really strange. I liked the colorful kimono in this movie, but all the women wore the kimono weird in the movie. There were open a lot on top in the front and hanging off their shoulders…that is a big no no when wearing a kimono. Maybe it was to make the women sleazier. The whore in the movie wore a really raggy kimono. In other words, peoples’ class was well portrayed by their outfits.
I did not like the rape theme in this movie (or any movie for that matter). Rape is a big deal and I liked how Konami said that being taken advantage of is worse than death. I agree. However, I got really upset when Kyoshiro told Konami that there was no reason to despise him even though he raped her! That was messed up. I don’t like Kyoshiro at all. He may have somewhat of a good side, but I still think he is a bad man.
I noticed the camera technique when Kyoshiro was fighting people on the stairs. The camera was really shaky and chaotic. I think it was supposed to give us the feeling that we were looking through Kyoshiro’s eyes. I also noticed the weird sound effects when the ceramic shards were being thrown. I can’t say I liked this movie that much, but I’ve seen worse.

Nemuri Kiyoshiro 3 was an excellent film to watch, and like many others we’ve seen, once again follows the formula of the invincible samurai warrior. The main character, Kiyoshiro, has been a permanent ronin, who still believes in the honorable samurai, which by this time, has all but disappeared from society. He befriends a small refugee farming village which is consistently being harassed by samurai, attempting to test the sharpness of their swords on the helpless people. Takayuki, the candidate to be the next shogun, is revealed as the villain surprisingly early as he beheads a poor soul in the very first scene of the film. Kiyoshiro continually antagonizes Takayuki throughout the film, and it eventually leads to the final conflict, where Kiyoshiro once again, displays effortless killings of enormous amounts of enemies.
These films which showcase the samurai who can overcome even the most outrageous odds are very common. I very much did enjoy the film, but I couldn’t help but shake my head at the absurdity of some of the fights in this movie. The absolute best example is the final conflict on the bridge. Kiyoshiro is faced with dozens of enemies, which attack him with swords and are dispatched in mere seconds. There are archers shooting at him with arrows, which Kiyoshiro blocks with his katana. AND to top it off, the bridge is lit on fire underneath him. It’s just silly to believe that Kiyoshiro would survive such a conflict, and as easy as he makes it look. However, the ridiculousness of these warriors makes the films entertaining to watch; you’re constantly wondering if this next opponent will be able to best, or at least, provide some challenge for these bad-asses and It will be immensely satisfying once we find a foe that can give the main character a run for their money.

Nemuri Kiyoshiro was a thoroughly entertaining film in my opinion due mostly to effortless killing our hero doles out in massive loads. I felt almost as if there was a badass quota that needed to be filled by this movie and that it had set out with that aspect directly in mind. In fact, the film opens right off by showing us the evil shogun candidate lopping off a head because he can. Kiyoshiro does not leave Takayuki alone, however, and this is eventually what leads to the best ending battle I have seen yet in this class. A flaming bridge scene, blocking arrows with a sword, dispatching foes as if they were just pieces of wet paper, this film had it all. To be honest, I decided to rewatch this scene as well as the other fight scenes after I had popped myself a bag of popcorn and was reclined for optimal enjoyment of the carnage due just to its over the top nature.
Kiyoshiro’s sword takes the foreground in the department of props with heavy emphasis placed on it. It becomes an extension of Kiyoshiro’s arm and is portrayed as his very soul, a common view held by samurai. He employs his deadly sword arts with what I felt was an almost childlike glee as he passes through his enemies with such obvious difference in skill as to show them as the equivalent of sacks of kitty litter for his hacking enjoyment. The use of light and shadow was emphasized throughout this movie and brought about the seedy, mysterious vibe that only continued to fill the badass quota set for this movie. Our hero is seen taking advantage of Konami with close up shots to emphasize his intentions and her displeasure and all he has to say afterwards is that she should not hate him. Kiyoshiro seems to be a kid at the playground who takes what he wants from others, whenever he wants to take it. He is the ultimate spoiled child of the samurai world, if spoiled children were able to hack apart hordes of trained samurai with a flick of their sword and be immune to all attacks imaginable.

The view of Samurai in the movie Nemuri Kiyoshiro (Sleepy Eyes of Death) is one very different from most of the films we have viewed. They are violent for no reason, and don’t have a good public view. The only samurai that seems to be worthy in this film was Kiyoshiro is actually a ronin, which means a wanderer or not having a master, and never has had a master. Yet he is willing to stand up for what he thinks is right. Kiyoshiro is also an extremely good fighter, which is why he has such an incredible sword. In fact, whenever he fought people in this film it seemed completely effortless. It’s obvious that Kiyoshiro deserves this sword not only because of his great fighting skills but also because of his “samurai soul,” and the reasons for why he fights. Even though Takayuki wants Kiyoshiro’s sword he is not worthy. When Kiyoshiro fought, he fought for other people and what was right, as opposed to Takayuki who killed people for no reason. Takayuki is so evil he doesn’t even seem to really realize right from wrong. He isn’t even aware that he is truly the evil person, which is noticeable when he screams “Your evil life will end tonight,” at Kiyoshiro.
This movie also has quite a few gruesome and gory scenes, including the scene at the beginning where the father’s head is cut off, and also the scene where kiyoshiro cuts off the mans arm who attempts to draw his sword at him.

Nemuri Kiyoshiro hearkened back to Humanity and Paper Balloons and The Seven Samurai, in terms of abjection and poverty. Much like the lowly characters in those films, the people who live in the shanty-town on the outskirts are faced with a life of helplessness and no sense of determination. They take the hand they are dealt and get shoved around by the people in power. They lead a miserable life, seemingly expecting to die in such conditions. The element that sets this one apart from the other two (more so with Humanity than The Seven Samurai) is that there seems to be a glimmer of hope for them toward the end when Kyoshiro tells Tajuu to return to the lands of the countryside, where he might lead a full life, harvesting and providing for himself.

As the films we watch become more and more current, I suppose there is a growing sense of desensitization toward the gore and the blood. Or perhaps they were used for a ‘Wow’ factor. Even though the effects, with some orange-ish fake blood and dummy limbs, were crudely executed, the movie was still bloodier (still not quite as bloody as Harakiri!) than I would’ve initially expected it to be.

However, my preconceived notion was proved wrong within the first two minutes of the film when Takayuki hacks off the poor man’s head clean off, as if he had just razed a dandelion in a field. Really, the casual way he went about it was extremely creepy. And that was the height of Takayuki’s intimidation in this film, I’m afraid, as he quickly boiled down to nothing more than a squalling little crybaby and an egotistical, brainwashed mama’s boy for the rest of the film.

Nemuri Kiyoshiro, cinematographically, had a lot of dynamic scenes using door frames. The one where Kyoshiro stops Takayuki from trying to take advantage of Konami (again with the domineering of the chaste, defenseless women…it seems to be a staple of this genre). Both Takayuki and Kyoshiro are seated on the tatami, but when Takayuki rushes to escape, we seem him run toward the open door, and suddenly a sword dashes in front of him, a blockade. Somehow, Kyoshiro has managed to outmaneuver Takayuki in reaching the door before him, yet the audience does not seem this. We don’t even see him slash the sword in front of Takayuki; we only see the sword itself, because our view is limited by the door frame.

Another interesting shot with frames was the one where Kyoshiro and his challenger (I can’t remember his name), sit opposite each other inside a building. The entryway is wide-open, allowing a view of the street outside. What makes the shot so visually eye-catching is the fact that the two samurai, seated on opposite ends of the door frame, are nearly shrouded in darkness, tucked in the shadows, while light pours in from the open frame and the audience can seen the downfall of rain. A very mesmerizing shot, I thought.

At the end, when the samurai faces the ninja, I thought that could’ve been almost like a moment captured in history. It was almost kind of surreal. I don’t know much about the history of ninja or if they existed around the same time as samurai, but for me, it was strangely cool to see them both appear within the same context.

Nemuri Kyoshiro 3 is a modern Jidaigeki that follows the same ideas as the others that we have watched so far. This film is about a master less samurai, or ronin named Kyoshiro. He doesn’t follow any of the rules, and is opposed to the government. He is especially opposed to Takayuki, a man who is the running to becoming the Shogun, and not a good man either. As previously stated, this film is reminiscent of films we have previously watched, most notably, Jirokichi, as it follows an outlaw who is fighting for a lower class.
This film is very modern in it’s cinematography. It is in color, and it utilizes modern movements and camera motions, such as tracking and having the camera do close-ups on people’s faces. While the set or the costumes aren’t anything interesting, the characters and the cinematography make the movie interesting to watch. Something I found very interesting about the cinematography is the portrayal of the character’s deaths. This is used right from the opening of the film, to the closing. What happens is when a character is killed, the music gets very horror-film sounding right beforehand, then the camera moves in quickly on the person who is dead, and usually facing downward in the ground. I just found this quite interesting, as this was the way most, if not all; of the character deaths were shot.
On that note, the soundtrack is also quite different. It is usually utilized before a fight/death, and nowhere else. This creates a sense of suspense, as well as drama. However, I found that the utilization of this technique was sometimes a bit over the top and overdramatic in the context of the movie. I much enjoyed movies like 47 Ronin, which was a lot less dramatic and more realistic about the death of the characters. I understand this film is more modern though, so it needs to be dramatized a little more in order to be entertaining. I feel that older Jidaigeki’s are more propaganda based and serious, while newer ones are more entertaining and melodramatic.
This wasn’t my favorite film out of the ones we watched; as it feels it was too modern and even at times western, especially in the cinematography. However, something good about this film is that it follows the traditional Jidaigeki recipe: there is a masterless samurai who is fighting against the law and for his own morals.

Sleepy Eyes of Death 3 begins with the ronin Nemuri Kyoshiro coming upon a peasant refugee camp under a bridge and witnessing a warrantless and brutal murder of an unarmed peasant by a samurai who intends to be the next Shogun, seemingly just to test out his new sword.
The world of the movie is one of a hierarchy established on power. Those with money and swords can do whatever they want to the powerless peasants, and they can get away with it simply because they are in power. Nemuri's motivation in this world does not seem to stem from some sort of humanitarian concern for the plight of the peasants, but more from him being irked by the pettiness and arrogance of those in power. Also interesting is the fact that he is a ronin, but rather than seeing that as a sign of disgrace and classlessness, he embraces the idea of not serving a master. This, along with many of his actions, indicates to me that he also is not serving some kind of higher moral code like many of the other ronin we have seen, but that his morality comes from his own judgement of right and wrong, which tends to be much more honest than the supposed morality of those in power. A contributing factor to him being able to serve his own code lies in the fact that he has the might to challenge those in authority and defy their commands over him since he is an undefeated swordsman. Were he a peasant like Tajuu, he likely could not have asserted his independence from them.
All in all, from the standpoint of a representation of certain aspects of Anarchism the film was very interesting.

I really enjoyed Nemuri Kiyoshiro 3. It had some elements that reminded me of Yojimbo. It featured a ronin who is also an expert swordsman going up against the established power base in the area in order to help those who could not fight for themselves. In Nemuri Kiyoshiro, however, the main character’s sword takes on a bit more importance. His sword is referred to in several places as though it has feelings of its own, from when he first gets it back from a sword sharpener (who says something about it being a sword that likes to kill), to when Kiyoshiro refuses Takayuki’s offer to buy the sword from him (Kiyoshiro says that the sword would weep if it was in Takayuki’s hands). This portrayal of Kiyoshiro’s sword as another character in the film seemed to also show up in a couple of the fight scenes. One in particular that stood out to me was when he was heading up a long flight of stairs outside and was confronted by a group of gangsters. For the fight itself, it seemed almost as though it was seen from a ‘sword’s eye view’. We don’t see Kiyoshiro himself, as he is wielding the sword, but we see lots of fast action as it swings through the group of gangsters. Kiyoshiro’s attachment to his sword can also be seen as his reluctance to part with it even to save the lives of the peasants. Although he did eventually turn it over to Takayuki, it seemed clear that it pained him to do so. He also only left Takayuki’s custody after getting his sword back (whereas in Yojimbo, Sanjuro does not care what sword he uses. For his final confrontation, he takes a sword that the coffin-maker provides him from one of the people he made a coffin for).

One of the things I enjoyed most about this movie was the fact that it was in color. I feel like I should be able to appreciate the older movies just as much as this one, but seeing it in color was definitely a big change and I enjoyed watching it a lot more than the ones we have watched previously. I especially appreciated how the women stood out much more because of their colorful kimono and hair decorations; their femininity stood out more, I think, in color.
Another thing I noticed in the cinematography was that there were a lot of very abrupt scenes or transitions that kind of threw me off. The first was actually in the very first scene when they're announcing that there is a murderer loose and that another man has been killed. The hooded guy steps into the scene and there's suddenly this loud, ominous music, and it seemed like one of those horribly dramatic and badly done dramas; I think it came off less dramatic and more silly. The same thing happened when 'his highness' was walking on the engawa and he suddenly collapses with blood coming out of his mouth. I remember thinking, 'what the heck was that about?' because it was so abrupt; you see him for a brief moment and then he's suddenly on the floor, passed out and leaking blood, and then the scene changes again. I don't really like abrupt changes like that; in some movies it's done well, but I didn't like it in this movie.
There's another thing that I've been wondering ever since the third or fourth movie we watched and pertains to all of the movies, not just this one specifically. I've noticed that a lot of the women in these movies have names beginning with 'O'. It's something very small, but I've definitely wondered about it for almost the entire semester and the woman in this movie, Okita I believe, brought it to my attention once again. I was just wondering whether it's a historical thing, like if many of the women back then had names starting with 'O', or if perhaps there's an aesthetic appeal to women with names like that. Or perhaps it has something to do with the kanji used in many women's names? I have no idea, but it definitely catches my attention every time we watch a movie.

Sleepy Eyes of Death: 3: Full Circle Killing is about a young ronin named Nemuri Kyoshiro, and his dealings with abusive lords. He sees people in power constantly abusing peasants, and decides to stand up for them. I could analyze the plot in further detail I guess but I would rather examine Nemuri’s character. I wonder if he is representative of some kind of new individualism that was rising in Japan at the time. It is evident that he has his own code of ethics to follow, as opposed to old or new bushido. He does seem to have respect for the old samurai who is both honorable and a good fencer, but doesn't value his ideology. Nemuri doesn’t adopt any way of thinking because he is simply told by society to do so. He didn't ever have a master, because he didn't want one. I think he finds it morally reprehensible that people in power so easily abuse peasants. Because of this hate for authority figures he ends up doing services to lower classes. I guess that's what turns him into a somewhat anarchical and individualistic figure. He is much like a super hero, as he cares for the defenseless, but unlike some American super heroes he is defending them from government. He is different from many of the past samurai we have seen, especially pre WWII. I thought he was a very interesting character.

I didn't really notice the music but there was some cinematography and makeup I thoroughly enjoyed. I really liked Nemuri’s first duel with the older samurai. The way the camera watched him spin his sword around and captured the anxiety and nervousness of the opposing samurai. It really helped show what kind of psychological warfare the crescent move technique uses. I also enjoyed a shot with the slow man and child beneath the bridge. The bridge stood looming in the background, and I felt it was almost a representation of the hardships the peasants had to endure. Then again later it is burned down when the lord was killed. I thought the makeup used on the Lord’s mother was well done. She looked almost ghostly or demonic. Her black teeth and gums paired with her porcelain makeup helped vilify and outwardly show her corruption.

Fun movie!

Nemuri Kyoshiro exemplifies the virtuous and moral standards expected of respectable people. Throughout the film, he is seeking to make right what is wrong and he tells each evil samurai of their corruptness. From killing for no reason when Takayuki slays Tajii's father in the beginning just to test the blade, to gambling and thieving, many samurai of those days were corrupt and unhonorable. He told one of the men how they were controlling the rice market and purposely making shortages to raise prices. The farmers could not even eat what they grew when the crops were bad and would starve and live in poverty. He was only doing it just to get in the Shogunate. His response to Kyoshiro was that the weak were ruled by the strong, that was just common sense. But the peasants were not treated like human beings, but like animals. Tajii was telling how he was whipped just for asking for help. The peasants view of the upper castes was that all samurai were the same, crooked and dirty. Kyoshiro only fought for his own reasons and stood up for the rights of peasants and commoners. He even asked himself why he was forced to kill such a great swordsman as Yorii. He also gave up his sword just to save Tajii and the peasants, but of course later regains occupation of his sword. The upper authorities and castes had become crooked and exploiting just for their own benefits and interests. Kyoshiro killed and fought for equal rights and the corrupt be punished.

There were a few notable camera shots and scenes I found interesting. When Kyoshiro and Banzo's wife are talking about death, one of the last shots is from outside looking at the girl who is framed in the door frame of the house, then she slides the door closed before she says one last thing is said and the scene ends. I also noticed many slowly zooming in or out shots, some starting from very far away. There was also a shot of fish, one jumping out then fades to Kyoshiro's face, intently staring at Nakimo I believe. I thought it was very unrealistic and humorous in the one scene it is raining, the rain just starts viciously out of nowhere with huge pounding thunder. Also when Kyoshiro and Yorii meet to battle, there is a shot of Kyoshiro walking from a distance towards the camera, which is very low to the ground with only a sliver of the horizon in the shot, but you can see Kyoshiro getting closer past the horizon line. Another good shot was when Kyoshiro is ambushed on the stairs and there is the first person shot within all of the action as Kyoshiro is slaying people left and right.

How is psychoanalytic dynamic set up?
One thing that seemed particularly pertinent about the filming of this is that we are often viewing Kyoshiro’s from the back as he talks with another person, looking full on to them, his own face shrowded in mystery. Sometimes it will show his face as the other person is talking, making it seem like he is analyzing them, taking in their character as they pour things out to him.
Camera doesn’t always focus on people’s faces, but includes a fair amount of what they are doing instead. For example, in the scene just after Konami tries to kill Kyoshiro, we see her sitting in the room alone before Takayuki comes in. Her sorrow is evident upon her face. Takayuki finds out that she let Kyoshiro get away with the sword. His turmoil builds on his face before he attacks the wall in anger. While this is happening, focus is put on Konami sitting silently in the room, turned slightly away. While Takayuki’s bashing is loud audibly, the guilt, shame, and anger coming from the two resonate much more loudly than diegetic noise.

A really cool use of the camera angle was when Kyoshiro was walking up the temple steps, which happens several times. It is positioned in such a way that it seems as though he is walking across a level path. It isn’t until we see from his perspective that it is indeed steep, and there are enemies in the way. They come at him from above, but he easily hacks through them, walking away peacefully an unscathed. The flat steps could suggest that there is nothing in his path that can make him stumble, that even the steepness and difficulties in life are just like a stroll through the woods.

I was really disappointed with the Sleepy Eyes of Death. I didn’t like any of the characters, which made it hard to care about them or even pay attention to the plot. Like, Yojimbo, nearly every character in the film was deviant of some sort, however Yojimbo’s deviants were all really likeable, including the villains. The protagonist in Sleepy Eyes of Death was so offensive to me that I actually wanted calamity to befall him.
Two scenes in particular that annoyed me were the scene where Nemuri and his opponent, whose name I didn’t catch, are sitting in a tavern discussing their upcoming duel. Nemuri tells the man that he can use any style he likes and then they each talk about their own style. Nemuri explains his ridiculous style wherein he draws a circle on the ground and the opponent is dead before it is complete. I though that the need for Nemuri to explain with words the effects of his moves is a result of really bad directing. Kimiyoshi Yasuda should have found another way to tell the audience what the effects of Nemuri’s style instead of using Nemuri himself to explain it.
I also was really appalled by the rape scene, I was really offended by the use of light and camera angles to make the rape appear to be glamorous and sexy. The interaction between Nemuri and the woman afterward really offended me too, it’s almost like it is saying that rape really isn’t a bad thing and women don’t mind it once it’s all over and done with.
The only characters I did like were the prostitutes, I thought they were humorous in the way they slinked around whenever they moved and spoke.

The cinematography in Kimiyoshi Yasuda’s “Sleepy Eyes of Death 3: Full Circle Killing” is goes above and beyond what jidaegekis we’ve previously watched in terms of kinetic action and drawing an audience into a story. From bizarre, low-pointed long shots of Kiyoshiro walking towards a duel to medium-to-close-up zooming shots of dramatic character expressions, such as when Takayuki learns from Konami that she had slept with Kiyoshiro, the entire movie seems to take itself much more seriously than previous jidaegekis we’ve watched.

One of the most interesting shots is taken from Kiyoshiro’s blade as it’s slashing through enemies on a set of stairs. The enemies had Kiyoshiro surrounded, which starts as a long shot. The shot turns to Kiyoshiro in a medium-long shot, preparing for action, before a close-up of his face. A medium shot returns to show the hired hands descending the stairs before cutting quickly to Kiyoshiro, then to a blurred, fast-paced, out-of-focus tracking shot going through various enemies, where the enemy gasps and falls whenever the camera focuses on them. Although the shot only lasts for five to seven seconds, it focuses on eight or nine peons who are all seen laying on the ground or picking themselves up and running away, as the shot after the crazy, blurred shot is a longer shot taken from the top of the stairs focusing on Kiyoshiro, blurring the peons past Kiyoshiro regardless of whether they’re alive or dead.

Another interesting shot is of Kiyoshiro approaching the glen where he is to duel Kanbei, who is waiting for him. While Kanbei looks up towards the sky, waiting for his opponent in a medium-close up shot, the scene transitions to Kiyoshiro, far off from the glen on a stone path, where the camera is pointed downwards focusing on the path he is walking on, making Kiyoshiro’s form, on the top fourth of the screen, dead center, almost blurry, giving Kiyoshiro, the hero, a sort of mystic quality about him, almost guaranteeing he’s going to win the duel before he even gets there because he looks almost shadowlike and extraordinary.

I don’t know what to think about the film Sleepy Eyes of Death. On one hand, the cinematography was really good and, on the other hand, I didn’t really care for the plot of the story. I did, however, find it interesting that there was a major gray area when it came to the heroes and villains of the story. Also, the main character, Nemuri Kyoshiro, definitely does not follow the typical samurai stereotype by refusing to take a master and, in a way, promoting anarchy.

One of my favorite scenes in the film based on cinematography was the scene were Kyoshiro is challenged by a group of men while walking up a steep set of stairs. It shows Kyoshiro walking up the stairs until he stops. The camera moves behind him and above him on the stairs you can see a gang of men who are obviously about to attack. The camera switches to his front as he looks down the stairs behind him for a way out. After determining that there wasn’t a way out, Kyoshiro runs up the stairs and begins to slice his way through the crowd. As he takes down opponent after opponent, the view switches to the view of Kyoshiro’s sword. The camera waves wildly around and you catch glimpses of men falling and you hear their screams and everything seems very chaotic. After Kyoshiro finally breaks through the group, the camera returns to view him from the front, calmly walking up the stairs while his enemies further down either flee or lie dead on the stairs below.

I was surprised by how much gray area there was in the character’s standing as a villain or a hero in the film. The “bad” guy in the film starts off the film by testing his swords sharpness by taking off an innocent peasant’s head. Later on, however, he goes on more than once to show that he does care for Konami by going against his mother’s orders. Many of his evil acts actually seem to be influenced by his mother’s ambitions for him to become shogun. On the other side of things, the supposed “good” guy Kyoshiro ends up raping Konami and doesn’t really try very hard to avoid killing people himself (beyond warning them not to fight him). Almost all of the characters appeared to have both a light and a dark side to them, which was definitely different from past films that we’ve seen.

Nemuri Kyoshiro 3
Throughout the film they were many slow-moving panels including moving in and out of close-ups. These seemed to emphasize the tension between characters and the intensity of the entire scene was heightened by it. This film seemed to like to utilize the movement of close-ups by placing the camera shot right over the character’s shoulder, perhaps to simulate the character’s point of view and to project the intensity that the character must have felt during the conversation.
In another scene, Kyoshiro is speaking with the wife of Bando and the shot goes from above her head looking down at an angle to beside Kyoshiro and looking up towards the wife. Both shots were placed behind the corresponding character’s shoulder looking at the other’s face. Again this seemed to simulate the character’s point of view and to effectively picture their faces and expressions.
When Kyoshiro interrupts Takayuki with Konami, he blocks Takayuki from escaping with his sword. I thought this shot was well done; the door frame Takayuki and only the sword sticks out and Kyoshiro cannot be seen. The unseen Kyoshiro steps into the framed shot and walks towards Takayuki, sword pointed at him. Along with the music, it seemed really effective in its message of threat.
Later in the film they have an interesting shot with the temple stairs at both the bottom and top. Wherever the shot is placed it always focuses on the distance and the framing is perfectly aligned with the width and length of the stairs. As Kyoshiro runs up the stairs you do not see the action but instead see the camera swing around in a circle simulating the fall of the men as they go down the stairs. The camera then straightens and focuses on Kyoshiro running up the stairs unhurt. He then looks down at the men, victorious.
Towards the end, after Konami dies, Takayuki’s mother pleads for him not to go to the challenge under the bridge. He does so and pushes his mother to the side. The camera focuses on her face next to the paper wall and then shifts to the body of Konami. Konami’s body is beautifully framed within the room and was an excellent shift from the mother to Konami’s dead body.

Nemuri Kiyoshiro 3 was a particularly entertaining film. It seemed to deal with a more historical myth protagonist, capable of unparalleled swordsmanship. Kiyoshiro (the main character) is nearly invincible in this film, and is able to mow down any enemy who stands in his path. There are several parts that are almost a bit comical, or perhaps they are meant to be satire. For instance, his “full moon cut style” of swordsmanship made me laugh, especially the ease with which he uses it to dispense enemies. Another part like this was the way in which he dealt with women. In particular, the scene in which he effortlessly slices off a woman's clothes.
There were definitely elements of class antagonisms in this film, another common theme in the jidaigekis we have seen. Kiyoshiro, a ronin, was unaccepted by the samurai class which he once belonged to (because he was a ronin), but he was also unaccepted by the commoners because they distrusted samurai. Kiyoshiro existed in a sort of purgatory between the two classes of society, and even while being alienated from all of those around him, he overcame it to defeat his enemies.
Another interesting change we've seen in this film (as well as the film or two prior) is the tendency towards blood and gore. I am a little interesting in what brought this into the jidaigeki films of this period. One major factor has to be the increase in technologies. The introduction of color into the film world makes things like blood and gore seem a little more real.
Overall, this film was very entertaining. The cinematography was extremely impressive while still letting the film flow naturally. Seeing a protagonist who is a bit more mythical overcome very tough circumstances was particularly exciting. I would like to see more films like this in the future.

As far as cinematographic styling, this film was a ten. The color was very astonishing, especially when exposed through marvelous blood and gore, the blood and gore was amazing by the way. The plot was sensationalized and I wonder if this were to prove a point at all. After all, Kyoshiro is repulsive and rude and cruel, a perfect party trick. Is it all surface, or is there something deeper? Seriously, I don't know.

But it is interesting to think about the modern cinematographic style. The cuts and shot angles are all things we've seen before in our movies growing up. There is the brooding, over-the-shoulder shot of Kyoshiro as he walks towards the crowd. There is the familiar conversation shots, going back and forth between the two conversationalists. In fact, facial expression seems to be a main motor of this film, and I would think that such emotion would better capture the audience. It's a little mainstream, without subtlety.

But there seems to be, in parts, subtlety in Kyoshiro's character. He is a ronin because he refuses to take a master. The master, he reasons, treats the peasants poorly, and Kyoshiro wants no part in the this power dynamic. It is slightly anarchistic for this reason, but it cannot be reasoned so for Kyoshiro's sympathy with the peasant class. His mission, despite its amoral tones, is to stand up for the have-nots. But how can he test out his sword's strength by cutting a peasant??? The contradictions are seemingly many, but the end result is pure entertainment and pure individualism. Individualism with the jidaigeki is a new movement.

I thought the end sequence, the flaming bridge, could not be carried out in black and white, and it could not be carried out by conventional filming methods. The mise-en-scene deliberately frames the bridge and flames as an epic battle. The bad guys rush at Kyoshiro and are killed off accordingly, almost magically with single swoops as if death were so easy. In the Sleepy Eyes of Death, it is just that easy to die; and perhaps, as Kyoshiro suggests, it is just that easy to live. Contradict oneself and never truly mind the consequences. Champion the poor. Be a perfect ronin. High Entertainment.

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This page contains a single entry by Mark Anderson published on April 19, 2010 12:04 AM.

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