On March 14, 1701, in the royal capital of Edo, Lord Asano is goaded into attacking the higher ranking Lord Kiru while on sacred ground. As a result of this grave offense, Asano is told to commit hara-kiri, his house is abolished and his properties abandoned. But 47 of Asano's samurai retainers vow vengeance upon Lord Kiru. Carrying out this year-long plot, however, comes at a terrible price, for they ultimately will have to take their own lives, in order not to dishonor Asano's memory. The Japanese military commissioned director Kenji Mizoguchi (Ugetsu) to make THE 47 RONIN--they wanted a ferocious morale booster based on the familiar story of The Loyal 47 Ronin. Instead, Mizoguchi chose for his source Mayama Chushingura, a cerebral play dealing with THE 47 RONIN. However, it was a commercial failure-released in Japan one week before Pearl Harbor, the military and most audiences found the first part to be too serious, but the studio and Mizoguchi both regarded it as so important that Part Two was put into production despite Part One's lukewarm reception. Renowned by postwar scholars lucky enough to have seen it in Japan, THE 47 RONIN wasn't shown in America until the 1970's.