Blu-Ray Review: Bakumatsu Taiyō-Den

Today, there appears to be an increasing desire to rekindle some kind of mythical Golden Age. Nostalgia has risen as a way of combatting the depressing times we’re living in. It’s not a new phenomenon though. Indeed, man has seemingly been striving for something better for centuries. During the 1950s, Japan society despaired at their youth. The taiyo zoku (sun tribe) were characterised as heavy drinking, promiscuous and wasteful. This myth is fictionalised, in a period setting, on-screen in Bakumatsu Taiyō-Den (The Sun in the Last Days of the Shogunate).

In a busy brothel, Osome (Sachiko Hidari) and Koharu (Yôko Minamida) compete to be the most popular prostitute. A group of samurai plot to burn down the ‘foreign quarter’ and rid their city of this foreign curse. Meanwhile Saheiji (Furankî Sakai) takes a room in the house. A chancer and a playboy, he skilfully runs up and avoids paying his huge tab. Eventually cornered, he majestically sets-about working to pay-back his debts.

Bakumatsu Taiyō-Den deftly takes the neuroses of an age and transports them to a period setting. Yûzô Kawashima’s film is a rampaging and non-stop ensemble comedy. Popular comedian Furankî Sakai is brilliant and the sly and crafty Saheiji. It’s a film which works on many levels. Political commentary and social taboos are exploited to full effect. Bakumatsu Taiyō-Den is easily the funniest Japanese film ever made. It’s a great film and still hugely entertaining.

Special Features:

  • From the gorgeous Nikkatsu restoration of the film in its original aspect ratio, presented in 1080p on the Blu-ray
  • Optional English subtitles
  • 36-PAGE BOOKLET featuring:
  • – An exclusive essay about the film by critic / scholar Frederick Veith
  • – Shoehei Imamura’s tribute to Yûzô Kawashima
  • – Rare archival imagery

Bakumatsu Taiyō-Den is released on Dual Format (DVD & Blu-Ray) by Eureka Entertainment as part of their Masters of Cinema collection on Monday 12 June.

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