Red Lion (film)

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Red Lion
Red Lion FilmPoster.jpeg
Original Japanese Poster.
Directed by Kihachi Okamoto
Produced by Toshiro Mifune
Yoshio Nishikawa
Written by Sakae Hirosawa
Kihachi Okamoto
Starring Toshiro Mifune
Shima Iwashita
Music by Masaru Sato
Cinematography Takao Saito
Distributed by Toho Company Ltd.
Release date
October 10, 1969
United States:
December 17, 1969
Running time
115 minutes
Country Japan
Language Japanese

Red Lion (赤毛?, Akage) is a 1969 Japanese film directed by Kihachi Okamoto and starring Toshirō Mifune and Shima Iwashita.

Plot summary[edit]

Gonzo (Toshiro Mifune), a member of the Imperial Restoration Force, is being asked by the emperor to deliver official news to his home village of a New World Order. Wanting to pose as a military officer, he dons the Red Lion Mane of Office. Upon his return, his attempt to tell the village about a brand-new tax cut is quashed when the townfolk mistakenly assumes that he is there to rescue them from corrupt government officials. He learns that an evil magistrate has been swindling them for years. Now, he has to help the village, ward off Shogunate fanatics, along with the fact that he can't read his own proclamations.

The director, Kihachi Okamoto, is well known for introducing plot twists and surprising endings in his films,[1] and Red Lion is no exception. What starts out as an almost comedic series of misunderstandings between almost comically drawn characters ends up turning far more serious as the film progresses. Tomi (Shima Iwashita), as Gonzo's old flame, is tragically torn between her hopes that Gonzo's new marriage proposal is genuine, and her fears that her life will never improve unless she "goes along" with the corrupt and powerful who rule over the peasant's lives. The film ends with the peasants dancing to the cry of "Ee ja nai ka" ("Why not!?", "Whatever!", or "Nevermind!"), which fatalistically refers to the tumultuous 1866-67 period of Japanese history immediately preceding the imperial restoration and the end of the Edo period.


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