Kagemusha (1980) A common thief, discovered to bear a striking resemblance to his feudal lord, is employed as a decoy to keep civil war from breaking out. Akira Kurosawa drew from the Sengoku period, based upon a history of Takeda Shingen, known for his military skills. Mortally wounded by a sniper, the lord requests that his death be kept a secret for three years, and the thief is forced to impersonate the leader. Playing both roles with subtle delight is Tatsuya Nakadai, who was cast in the film after the original actor quit at the end of the shoot. The film ends in the 1575 Battle of Nagashino, action that Kurosawa cut down to 90 seconds to create a spectacular horror of war.
Leadership, ennobled by vision,
Binds together squabbling factions
Into one massive fist of men.
A dynamo, beneath banners
And flags proclaiming clan,
Flings forth the force of dragons.
Without such tactical insight,
A magpie cannot become an eagret
No matter the resemblance.
At the vortex of power,
All the relatives squawk and squabble,
Having forgotten what unites them.
In private chambers
The concubines cluster and titter
As if they know a secret nobody else does.
A nation with only a magpie’s vision
Cannot hold together itself
Let alone the entire world.
You will recognize the true visionary
Because he pauses in the midst of battle
To listen to the flute.
[Disposable Poem June 8, 2017]