From the critically-acclaimed director Nagisa Oshima (Merry Christmas, Mr Lawrence) comes Gohatto (Taboo) a samurai drama set in an all male Shinsengumi samurai school in Japan circa 1865. Young recruit Kano joins the elite fighting force Shinsengumi and realises that he has become the object of desire amongst his fellow comrades. Whilst samurai adhere to a set of strict rules, the senior members of the militia have a growing concern of the consequences of Kano's effect on the other samurai. The film stars internationally renowned actor and director Takeshi Kitano (Brother, Hana-Bi). Academy Award winning Ryuichi Sakamoto (Merry Christmas, Mr Lawrence, The Last Emperor) provides the atmospheric music for the film, with the beauty of pre-modern Japan being captured through the spectacular backdrops and samurai outfits.
A visually stunning and gripping film.
- Taboo review by Shatner's Bassoon
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You rated this film: 4
The plot of 'Taboo' revolves around an elite samurai group called the Shinsengumi, whose job it is to maintain the order of the shogun. These select Japanese warriors live by a strict code of ethics that enable them to not only kill without anger or remorse, but to do it with blind obedience, honour and self control. When an androgynous eighteen year old recruit arrives for training, the harmony of the clan is disrupted by gossip and envy over the attention and affection of the effeminate looking young man. Suddenly members begin to die and a jealous member of the clan is suspected. I have to admit the only reason I rented 'Taboo' was due to that fact I'm a fan of Takeshi Kitano and will pretty much watch anything he's in, though after seeing this film I would easily recommend it to just about anyone, as it's quite simply a great piece of filmmaking. If you're put off by the theme, don't be. While the story contains an overall theme of homosexuality within a samurai setting, the film is more about how a group of men who isolate themselves from society and repress their feelings cope when temptation is forced upon them, and how this event disrupts their self-contained group. The story would have worked just as well if a female was introduced into their ranks, although as it's a historical piece an androgynous looking young man was far more suitable. Overall, it's a great piece of Japanese cinema, with an engaging story, great acting and beautiful direction from Nagisa Oshima. If you're a fan of foreign cinema then 'Taboo' is highly recommended.
This is an interesting diversion on the normal samurai films, here the militia have to deal with forces from within their camp. A new recruit who is talented with the blade favours men over women. His influence soon causes ripples and in-fighting. Those expecting something along the lines of a Kurosawa epic will be disappointed, as the whole thesis seems ridiculous. Soon these ruptures becomes the centre point of the whole film, with little else to occupy the militia it seems. However Gohatto is well acted, beautifully shot and faithful to its period setting. The music is also superbly orchestrated, as is the swordplay. Overall I just felt like the script required something else.