Samurai I: Musashi Miyamot (1954): Hiroshi Inagaki’s Oscar-Winning Film

Starring Toshiro Mifune, Samurai I: Musashi Miyamot is the first film of Inagaki’s Samurai Trilogy of historical adventures.

The film is adapted from Eiji Yoshikawa’s novel Musashi, originally released as a serial in the Japanese newspaper Asahi Shimbun, between 1935 and 1939. The novel is loosely based on the life of the famous Japanese swordsman Miyamoto Musashi.

It was followed by two sequels, Samurai II: Duel at Ichijoji Temple (1955) and Samurai III: Duel at Ganryu Island (1956).

The film won a Special Honorary Award at the 1955 Academy Awards for outstanding foreign language film.

The Premise:

After the battle of Sekigahara, Takezo (Toshiro Mifune) and his friend Matahachi (Rentarō Mikuni) are on the losing side. Instead of the victory and glory Takezo had anticipated, he is now a hunted fugitive, having to assist a severely injured Matahachi.

The pair seek shelter with a widow and her daughter who unbeknownst to them are connected to local brigands. The brigands soon show up and ask for tribute from what the women have stripped off dead samurai.

Both women attempt to seduce Takezo but are rejected. The widow then tells Matahachi that Takezo tried to assault her and convinces him to escort her and her daughter to Kyoto.

Matahachi agrees even though he loves (and is betrothed to) Otsu (Kaoru Yachigusa), a woman from his village.