The Illusion of Illusions – Kagemusha, by Akira Kurosawa (1980)

Kurosawa directing the final sequence of Kagemusha

Kurosawa directing the final sequence of Kagemusha

The film’s subject, treated multifariously and with genius and with masterful artistry, is human illusions.

The illusion of permanence, when the clan’s leader is assassinated.

The illusion of power, when the leader is said not to be dead.

The illusions of position and identity, when a human double is given the leader’s place.

The illusions of control and deception, as the clan nobility attempt to present the human double to those who cannot be convinced but can be deceived: the grandchild, the mistresses; and the assassinated leader’s horse, which cannot be deceived.

The illusion of perception, when dreams invade and insist.

The illusions of loyalty and allegiance and adherence to a code of conduct, when individuals act to their mortal detriment.

The illusion of success, when individuals without possibility of winning, such as in warfare, are sent to their certain and needless death.

The illusion of illusion, which art presents.

 

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