At the time, the most expensive Japanese film ever made, this epic unfolds during a period of clan warfare, and questions the very nature of power.

Kurosawa only made two films during the 1970s, and one of those was made in the Soviet Union. He was finding it extremely difficult to raise finance in Japan, and it was only with the support of two American admirers – George Lucas and Francis Ford Coppola – that he managed to make Kagemusha, which was at the time the most expensive Japanese film ever produced. Again, the setting is the 16th Century, the period of clan wars, and the background to the story is basically true. When clan chief Shingen Takeda (Tatsuya Nakadai) is fatally wounded he persuades the clan’s hierarchy to replace him secretly with a kagemusha (or double), also played by Nakadai, a thief who was spared the gallows because he bears an uncanny resemblance to Takeda.

In this film, Kurosawa is examining the meaning of power. The enemy believes that the powerful Takeda is still in control, but the reality is very different; yet as long as the subterfuge works, the dead clan leader’s power remains in place. The battle scenes are magnificently staged, but the director leaves viewers in no doubt of his attitude towards the madness of war and in particular the pointlessness of this kind of internecine conflict.

- David Stratton

Please note, this screening will be of a digitally restored version of the film, and will be screened at Dendy Opera Quays cinema. 

A special discount package of all ten films in the retrospective is available for $130 + booking fee. Click here to book the Essential Kurosawa: Selected by David Stratton package.


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Ferve Tickets

Akira Kurosawa


180 mins

Japanese with English subtitles



Masato Ide, Akira Kurosawa

Akira Kurosawa

Tatsuya Nakadai, Tsutomu Yamazaki, Kenichi Hagiwara

Rights/DCP Source: Park Circus