Mifune as the Japanese Cyrano in “Samurai Saga”

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Mifune Toshiro has an out-of-body experience, as he dies amidst falling cherry blossoms in the Japanese adaptation (in color) of “Cyrano de Bergerac” to the time of Tokugawa victory, “Samurai Saga” (Aru kengo no shogai, 1959, directed by Inagaki Hiroshi, who also directed Mifune in “The Samurai Trilogy” and “Rickshaw Man.”

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Most of it is like the latter undistinguished movie about unexpressed and unrequited love, though there is a military campaign in the middle, with Christian (Jirota, played by Takarada Akira) and Cyrano (Komaki, played by Mifune with a thickened but not lengthened nose) fighting against the Tokugawa army.

I found it slow, like “Rickshaw Man.” I don’t remember what I thought of the pace of the Samurai Trilogy, but it was stretched out to three movies! Until the battle of Sekigahara, no one dies in the typically 20+:1 sword fights in “Samurai Saga.” But the Tokugawa army has muskets and mows down enemy troops without engaging in close (swordfighting) combat with Mifune et al.

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