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Wednesday, November 20, 2019, 18:45 - 21:30

Who knew revenge could break the bank?

 Sneak Preview Screening: "The 47 Ronin in Debt (Kessan! Chushingura)"
followed by a Q&A with director Yoshihiro Nakamura

Wednesday, November 20 at 6:45 pm*11202019 The 47 Ronin in Debt Kessan Chushingura 356p
*Please note early start time
In Japanese with English subtitles
Japan, 2019 125 minutes

Written and directed by: Yoshihiro Nakamura
Produced by: Fumitsugu Ikeda, Shunsuke Koga
Starring: Shinichi Tsutsumi, Takashi Okamura, Gaku Hamada,
Yu Yokoyama, Satoshi Tsumabuki, Satomi Ishihara

Film courtesy of Shochiku

This is hands-down our favorite movie tagline of the year: "Revenge is... ultra-expensive!" Unlike many misleading taglines, it perfectly conveys the intentions of this bold reinterpretation of one of Japan's most oft-told historical tales, "Chushingura: The 47 Rōnin."

Already brought to stage and screen at least 300 times (!), the tale has now been adapted by Yoshihiro Nakamura ("Mumon: The Land of Stealth," "The Magnificent Nine") as "The 47 Ronin in Debt," a title that helps underscore the film's focus.

By taking a fiduciary approach to the fateful months leading up to the demise of the Ako clan, Nakamura not only brings a fresh perspective to the samurai tragedy; he gives it a greater sheen of contemporary relevance. Basing his retelling on the actual balance sheets recorded by the chief retainer of the Ako, Kuranosuke Oishi, Nakamura is able to accurately depict the clan's stymied efforts to avenge their fallen lord's forced seppuku (cuing the Japanese distributors to cleverly bill the film as "budget attainment entertainment").

"The 47 Ronin in Debt" opens when Lord Asano (Sadawo Abe) is at the height of a rather overzealous anti-corruption crusade, which in 1701 results in his fatal punishment. His righthand man, Kuranosuke (Tsutsumi), is left to organize revenge with the lord's other devoted retainers, who all vow to kill the offender, Kira. But adding insult to injury, the Ako are told to surrender their castle and their tidy allowances.

In the 1700s, we learn, the feudal domain was akin to a sizable company, and Kuranosuke's immediate concern is to maintain solvency. Poet Gengo Otaka (Hamada) is promoted from being the poison food tester to leading efforts to win the shogun's support for a restoration of the clan's holdings. When bankruptcy engulfs the Ako, he begins to realize the abacus-wielding bureaucrats are mightier than the warriors. But can they find a way to finance Kira's assassination?

Nakamura's approach admittedly favors a Japanese audience, who are overly familiar with the story and characters and thus won't find the film's multiple monetary and name captions distracting. But for those who appreciate historical reimaginings, as well as costumed intrigue, this is a must see.

Please join us for this sneak peak of "The 47 Ronin in Debt" just before its Japan premiere on November 22.

For more (in Japanese):

Director YOSHIHIRO NAKAMURA began his career as an assistant director for Yoichi Sai, Juzo Itami and other big names. In 1999, he made his directorial debut with "Local News," and won the Kaneto Shindo Prize for young directors in 2007. His other major works include "The Foreign Duck, the Native Duck, and God in a Coin Locker," "Golden Slumber," "The Magnificent Nine" and "Mumon: The Land of Stealth."

Please make your reservations at the FCCJ Reception Desk (3211-3161) or register below. You may attend the Q&A session without attending the screening, but you will not have seating priority. All film screenings are private, noncommercial events primarily for FCCJ members and their guests.

- Karen Severns, Film Committee


11202019 The 47 Ronin in Debt (Kessan! Chushingura) 290p.jpg
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