On Christmas Day we will be treated to the official release of the 47 Ronin. Marking the return to the big screen of Matrix star actor Keanu Reaves, the film depicts a fictional account of the forty-seven Ronin, a real-life group of samurai in 18th-century Japan who avenge the murder of their master.
Do you know anything about the fabled story of the Forty-Seven Ronin? If you’ve seen the special effects laden trailer for the 47 Ronin movie, your first thought may be that this is some ‘crazed-out, outlandish tale’ with samurai and monsters and all sorts of other silliness – which it is! However, it always helps to have some ‘context’ to a story.
First off, if you haven’t seen the trailer, hang on to something and check it out below:
A little crazy, yes. So let’s start with the REAL the story?
The revenge of the Forty-seven Ronin took place in Japan at the start of the 18th century. The story tells of a group of samurai who were left leaderless (becoming ronin) after their daimyo (feudal lord) Asano Naganori was compelled to commit seppuku (ritual suicide) for assaulting a court official named Kira Yoshinaka, whose title was Kōzuke no suke. The ronin avenged their master’s honor by killing Kira, after waiting and planning for almost two years. In turn, the ronin were themselves obliged to commit seppuku for committing the crime of murder.
The synopsis for the re-created story opening December 25th:
The outcast Kai (Keanu Reeves) joins a group of ronin, led by Kuranosuke Oishi (Sanada), who seeks vengeance on Lord Kira (Asano) for killing their master and banishing the group. The ronin embark on a journey with challenges that would defeat most warriors. According to Universal Studios – “The film will tell a stylized version of the story, mixing fantasy elements of the sort seen in The Lord of the Rings pics, with gritty battle scenes akin to those in films such as Gladiator.”
Some basic facts about the Forty-Seven Ronin:
- The tragedy of the Forty-seven Ronin has been one of the most popular themes in Japanese art.
- The incident immediately inspired a succession of kabuki and bunraku plays; the first, The Night Attack at Dawn by the Soga appeared only two weeks after the ronin died.
- The story was turned into an opera, Chūshingura, by Shigeaki Saegusa in 1997.
- The play has been made into a movie at least six times in Japan.
- There is a five-issue comic book series adaptation for Dark Horse Comics called 47 Ronin.
- There is also a graphic novel/manga version (The 47 Ronin: A Graphic Novel), which stays very close to the original story
Are you planning on seeing The 47 Ronin? If so, would love to hear your experience watching it!