At the turn of the Meiji era in late 1860s Japan, an impoverished and low-ranking samurai named Seibei (Hiroyuki Sanada) cares for two young daughters and a senile mother while working as a stock clerk. A widower, Seibei is too busy and embarrassed of his poverty to consider remarrying, but when he is introduced to his best friend’s sister Tomoe (Rie Miyazawa), new possibilities are opened for him and his family. That is, until he is called upon to risk his life for the clan. A subversively unromantic depiction of the last days of the samurai, this late-period masterpiece from 71-year-old Tora-san director Yoji Yamada defies all expectations.
Nominee, Best Foreign Language Film, 76th Academy Awards
Winner, Best Picture, Best Director, Best Actor, Best Actress, Best Screenplay at 2002 Japan Academy Film Prize
“Seibei’s story is told by director Yoji Yamada in muted tones and colors, beautifully re-creating a feudal village that still retains its architecture, its customs, its ancient values, even as the economy is making its way of life obsolete.” —Roger Ebert
“The Twilight Samurai escapes the expectations of its genre… The movie captures the struggle of individuals caught in the strict confines of a caste system, and this depiction leaves a lasting impression on viewers.” —The Washington Post