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"Shōgun (Season 1)", Streaming, [2024] [Movie Review]

"Shōgun (Season 1)", Streaming, [2024]

I am old enough to remember the old "Shōgun" TV-series from 1980, featuring Richard Chamberlain as Anjin-san. I don't remember much from it, but it certainly made an impression back then. This brand new 2024 version of "Shōgun" tells the same story for a new generation, and it retells it for us that has forgotten most of the old version. It is based on a 1975 novel by James Clavell, and nope, I've never read the book. 

The events take place around year 1600 in feudal Japan and it is a great tale of loyalty, honor, faith, tragedy, betrayal, love, war, fate, sacrifice, revenge, conflicts, intrigue, deception, and you name it.

It teels the story of an Englishman, John Blackthorne [Cosmo Jarvis] or as he shall become known Anjin, who strands with his ship and crew in Japan. He becomes a chess piece in Lord Yoshii Toranaga's [Hiroyuki Sanada] chess game of securing peace and power in Japan. Japan is on the brink of war as the council, orchestrated by Ishido Kazunari [Takehiro Hira], seeks to have Toranaga eliminated from the chess board.

Anjin begins as a prisoner but he ends up high in the military ranks of Toranaga's Samurai army. Anjin develops a secret love relationship with Toda Mariko [Anna Sawai], who functions as the interpreter between the Japanese and the Portuguese speaking foreigners. Mariko is very loyal to Toranaga, and like the rest of them, she is also being used as a chess piece.

"Accepting death isn't surrender. Flowers are only flowers because they fall."

The film-makers have done an excellent job at recreating Japan of old. It all looks very believable, strange and beautiful. It is also a deadly place where death is lurking around every corner. If you don't die from an earthquake or get killed by an assassin, you may easily end up having to commit suicide, seppuku, if you do something to dishonor the wrong person. 

What really adds to the authenticity of the show is that a major part of the dialogue is in Japanese. The illusion is broken a bit when the Portuguese speaking foreigners speak English though-out the movie. I guess it was just too difficult to find enough Portuguese speaking actors or perhaps the film-makers were too afraid of scaring the rest of any remaining subtitle-loathing viewers away.

Most of the actors are really great. They manage to portray the emotions very well, and even if you probably can't understand Japanese, you can still appreciate how well the characters are portrayed. Particularly Anna Sawai blows away all competition. She is simply outstanding, and she deserves to win awards for her role as Mariko.

It is a dark and often violent TV-series. It is also quite slow at times and very character driven. If you expect constant action this won't be for you. If however, you can enjoy some very great acting and a view into a deeply fascinating and very strange world and culture that once were, there is a pretty good chance that you will love it a lot.

Rating: 5

TV Series Title: Shōgun

Season: 1

Episodes: 10

Creators: Rachel Kondo, Justin Marks

This Release: 2024

Movie Genre: Drama

Actors: Cosmo Jarvis, Anna Sawai, Tadanobu Asano, Hiroyuki Sanada, Takehiro Hira, Moeka Hoshi, Mako Fujimoto

Movie Format: Streaming

Movie Label: Disney+

Content Type: Movie Review

Language: EN

Updated: 2024-04-23 17:42

Created: 2024-04-23 09:13

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