For Reel

Lady Snowblood (1973)
November 21, 2016, 3:08 pm
Filed under: Reviews | Tags: , ,

Director: Toshiya Fujita
5 Stars
lady-snowbloodAlthough this revenge saga has a familiar story, it is full of consistent surprises in both its visual style and in its fatalistic attitude towards its character and the world she inhabits. It opens with a birth and a dying mother as snow falls outside the bars of a Meiji prison. Not long after, a young woman in an elegant kimono walks through the snow twirling her purple umbrella, which shortly becomes a tool to exact a spectacularly violent murder. If director Toshiya Fujita is an unabashed formalist and brings a certain level of class to the pulpy framework, his style isn’t restrictive on the story—it’s not an imposition, rather something that seems to come through the action. Whereas imitators imagine the fascination with violence as something to be gawked at, the killings in Lady Snowblood are never freed from the inherent tragedy of a woman giving her life to something she ultimately never had a choice to retreat from—she is born as a demon, an exactor of revenge. Fujita’s groundwork in establishing a political context convey that, just as Snowblood has no will of her own, the increasing threat of Westernization is rendering the Japanese civilians as pawns in a larger political game.

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