Samurai Rebellion

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Samurai Rebellion
Samurai Rebellion 1967.jpg
Theatrical poster for Samurai Rebellion (1967)
Directed by Masaki Kobayashi
Produced by Toshiro Mifune
Tomoyuki Tanaka
Written by Shinobu Hashimoto
Yasuhiko Takiguchi (novel)
Starring Toshiro Mifune
Yoko Tsukasa
Tatsuyoshi Ehara
Etsuko Ichihara
Isao Yamagata
Tatsuya Nakadai
Shigeru Kôyama
Michiko Otsuka
Music by Tōru Takemitsu
Cinematography Kazuo Yamada
Edited by Hisashi Sagara
Distributed by Toho Company Ltd. (Japan)
Toho International Company Inc. (1967, USA)
Release dates
June 3, 1967 (Japan)
December 1967 (USA)
Running time
128 min. (Japan)
120 min (USA)
Language Japanese

Samurai Rebellion is a 1967 Japanese film directed by Masaki Kobayashi. Its original Japanese title is Jōi-uchi: Hairyō tsuma shimatsu (上意討ち 拝領妻始末), which translates approximately as "Rebellion: Result of the Wife Bestowed" or "Rebellion: Receive the Wife".[1]


In the Edo period of Japan, Isaburo Sasahara (Toshiro Mifune) is a vassal of the daimyo of the Aisu clan. Sasahara is the most skilled swordsman in the land, whose only rival in ability is his good friend Tatewaki Asano (Tatsuya Nakadai). Isaburo is in a loveless marriage with a shrew of a woman. One day one of the daimyo's advisors orders Isaburo's elder son Yogoro (Go Kato) to marry the daimyo's ex-concubine, Ichi (Yoko Tsukasa), even though she is the mother to one of the daimyo's sons. With much trepidation, the family agrees. In time, Ichi and Yogoro find love and happiness in the marriage and a daughter Tomi is born.

In the meantime, the daimyo's primary heir dies, and he orders his ex-concubine to rejoin his household to care for their son and heir. The family refuses, but Ichi is tricked into the castle by Isaburo's younger son, and her husband and father-in-law are ordered to commit seppuku for their insolence and insubordination. Isaburo counters that he will comply only if the heads of the daimyo and his two primary advisors are brought to him first.

Isaburo sends his younger son and wife away and dismisses his household servants. With his elder son he prepares for battle, removing the tatami from his house to prevent slipping in the blood that will be spilled and removing the house's walls to allow for more space for combat.

The daimyo's steward, accompanied by a platoon of 20 samurai, brings Ichi to the Sasahara house and tries to force her at spear point to renounce her marriage to Yogoro and join the daimyo's household. The daimyo also "graciously" offers to commute Isaburo and Yogoro's sentences to permanent confinement in a shrine outside his castle. Not only does Ichi refuse to join his household, she throws herself onto a spear instead of abandoning her husband. Her husband goes to her side and is killed with her in his arms. His father, enraged, kills the steward's entire party, killing the steward last as he attempts to flee.

Burying the dead couple, Isaburo now decides to take his case with Tomi to the Shogun in Edo regardless of the consequences to his clan. Tatewaki, who is guarding the gate, cannot permit Isaburo to pass, and a climactic duel follows with his good friend. Isaburo is the victor, but assassins hidden nearby cut Isaburo down with musket fire. In his dying breath, he laments that no one will ever know the love story of Yogoro and Ichi, which had inspired him, an otherwise obedient vassal, to rise against his clan and lord. He beseeches Tomi to be a good and kind woman like her mother, and to seek out a fine and kind husband like her father. As Isaburo dies, we see Tomi's wet-nurse comforting the baby: she has been secretly following him.



The music, by Tōru Takemitsu, is performed almost exclusively on traditional Japanese instruments, including shakuhachi, biwa, and taiko.


Rebellion won the Fipresci Prize (Masaki Kobayashi) at the Venice Film Festival in 1967. At the 1968 Kinema Junpo Award it won Best Director (Masaki Kobayashi), Best Film (Masaki Kobayashi), Best Screenplay (Shinobu Hashimoto). At the 1968 Mainichi Film Concours it won Best Film (Masaki Kobayashi).


  1. ^ Richie, Donald. "Samurai Rebellion: Kobayashi's Rebellion". Samurai Rebellion (DVD). Insert. Criterion Collection. Release Date: 2005-10-25.

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