The hidden blade

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German title The hidden blade
Original title 隠 し 剣 鬼 の 爪
Country of production Japan
original language Japanese
Publishing year 2004
length 132 minutes
Age rating FSK 12
Director Yōji Yamada
script Yōji Yamada,
Yoshitaka Asama
production Hiroshi Fukazawa ,
Ichirō Yamamoto
music Isao Tomita
camera Mutsuo Naganuma
cut Iwao Ishii

←  Predecessor
Samurai of Dawn

The Hidden Blade , also The Hidden Sword , ( Japanese 隠 し 剣 鬼 の 爪 , Kakushi Ken: Oni no Tsume , dt. "The hidden sword: The claws of the demon") is a Japanese historical drama by director Yōji Yamada from 2004 , which is based on a short story of the same name from Shūhei Fujisawa's Kakushi Ken Shūfūshō ( 隠 し 剣 秋風 抄 ). At the center of the plot are several samurai at the time Japan opened up to foreign countries and the isolation policy ended with it .

The film is part of Yamada's so-called "Samurai Trilogy", which includes the following works: Samurai of the Dawn (2002), The Hidden Blade (2004) and Love and Honor - Bushi no ichibun (2006). Contrary to the usual genre themes such as heroism, Yamada focuses in the three productions on samurai who, battered by strokes of fate, live in poverty and professional stagnation.

The samurai film was shown in the competition at the 55th Berlinale , where it also had its German premiere on February 15, 2005. The first broadcast on German free TV took place on January 21, 2010 under the title The Hidden Sword .


In the second half of the 19th century, Japan found itself at the crossroads between a deadlocked class system and a political opening to the West. The feudal upper class of the samurai is threatened with the loss of their rights and their era is drawing to a close.

Munezo Katagiri is a small and insignificant provincial samurai who leads a quiet and contemplative life far away from the capital Edo . He lives in a modest property together with his younger sister Shino, his old mother and the young maid Kie, who comes from a humble background . When Shino leaves his parents' home after marrying a samurai friend, housemaid Kie marries into a family of traders and his mother dies, the unmarried Munezo is confronted with a necessary reassessment of his everyday life.

Three years later, the main actor happened to meet the emaciated Kie, whom he looked after again full of concern. Munezo has always been in love with the former maid, but he cannot marry her due to the difference in class. When he learns of Kies's inhuman treatment and malnutrition, he intervenes and frees her from the house of the merchant family. Then he forces the initiation of the divorce and takes it in with him. His courageous sympathy, which the strict samurai code actually forbids him, represents a violation of existing norms, so that from now on society punishes him with ostracism.

With the recovered Kie a brief phase of happiness follows. Finally, the social pressure on Munezo becomes so great that he separates from his beloved with a heavy heart. At a different time, Munezo's long-time companion, Samurai Yaichirō Hazama, who once moved out to pursue a career in Edo, was arrested as an alleged conspirator in the capital. He is denied the ritual seppuku . Instead, he should return as a prisoner to the province of his clan on the orders of the dodgy liege lord Hori.

Prosecutor Hori, who is also the most senior investigating officer, follows the convict to the rural area. There he does research in the environment of the Unasaka clan, which Munezo also belongs to. The rebellious Munezo is quickly suspected of being a conspirator as well. The accused falls from grace. When he is urged to kill Yaichirō, who has since escaped, in a sword fight, he agrees. Munezo defeats Yaichirō with a ruse, but without killing him. The improper murder of the samurai, however, falls to a military unit equipped with modern firearms. This recent outrage - previously humiliated Hori Yaichirō's passionately fighting wife - causes Munezo to view Hori as a power-hungry villain. The protagonist avenges the death of his sword brother and kills the liege lord with an accessory knife , without being able to be held accountable.

In the end, Munezo's life seems pointless. He quits the service, loses all privileges and gives up the status of samurai. He asks his great love Kie to marry him and start a new life with him on Ezo in the north of the country. Munezo's queen of hearts happily agrees.


The lexicon of the international film describes the epic drama as a " splendidly furnished series of pictures ", which " thematizes the emerging turning point with fine hints ".


Japanese Academy Awards
  • 2005: Eleven nominations: Best Film, Best Director, Best Screenplay, Best Actor, Best Actress, Best Supporting Actor, Best Music, Best Cinematography, Best Editing, Best Lighting and Best Sound
  • 2005: Award in the Best Production Design category for Mitsuo Degawa and Yoshinobu Nishioka
Berlin International Film Festival
Hochi Film Awards
  • 2004: Award in the Best Actress category for Takako Matsu
Mainichi Eiga Concours
  • 2005: Award in the category Best Supporting Actress for Tomoko Tabata (also for Blood & Bones )
Semana Internacional de Cine de Valladolid
  • 2005: Nomination for the Golden Ear

Web links

Individual evidence

  1. ^ Certificate of Release for The Hidden Blade . Voluntary self-regulation of the film industry , January 2009 (PDF; test number: 116 649 DVD).
  2. The Hidden Blade. Lexicon of International Films, accessed July 19, 2010 .