Lady Snowblood (1973)

Lady Snowblood (1973) movie poster

director Toshiya Fujita
viewed: 12/30/2015

Stylish and stylized tale of revenge par excellence.

A baby girl is born to her mother in a prison in 1874 in Japan.  Her mother, dying in the aftermath of childbirth, anoints baby Snowblood an asura, a spirit of vengeance and imprinting on her a goal of revenge on three outstanding criminals that murdered Snowblood’s brother and father and whose doom her mother has dedicated herself.

Told in chapters, with reference to the revenge schemes, inflected at times with images from the manga from which the story was taken, Lady Snowblood is a forceful and ever-inventive visual feast, moving forward to its blood-spurting ending with verve and wit.

It’s easy to see how this movie inspired Quentin Tarantino, not just in his Kill Bill films, but just in general.  It’s great stuff.

I found the story’s placement at the transition from the feudal era into the country’s Westernization and modernization.  Since Samurai films are set in the hundreds of years of the feudal times, this is decidedly not a Samurai film, but as yet, Snowblood trains for her vengeance at the will of a strict priest, becoming a killer of the first order.  It is through the changes in Japanese culture that the villains of the film initially profiteer and kill for, and finally, the head of the gang, when finally tracked has moved into profiteering from Japan’s militarization.  A tacit critique of Western culture’s influence is rife.

Great movie.

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