The Sun in the Last Days of the Shogunate

Bakumatsu taiyoden

dir. Yuzo Kawashima

TIFF Cinematheque - Retrospective

Skip to schedule and film credits
Voted one of the best Japanese films of all time in a poll of Japanese critics, this raucous and cynical comedy follows an amiable trickster as he becomes embroiled in sleazy schemes, revolutionary intrigue and star-crossed love affairs at the dawn of the Meiji Restoration.
Though Nikkatsu was and is best known for its crime and action films, the studio's output was far more diverse, as attested to by this riotous comedy from director Yuzo Kawashima, which was voted the fifth best Japanese film of all time in a 1999 poll of critics by the prestigious film magazine Kinema Junpo. Co-scripted by Kawashima and his protégé Shohei Imamura (soon to become one of the most celebrated directors of the Japanese New Wave) along with Keiichi Tanakat, Sun is set at the dawn of the Meiji Restoration in the late 1800s. When crafty commoner Saheji (played by comedian Frankie Sakai) racks up a huge bill at a brothel, he is forced to stay in the house to work off his debt, where he becomes cheerfully embroiled in sleazy schemes, revolutionary intrigue and star-crossed love affairs, using his quick wit to always stay one step ahead. Hearkening back to the burlesque rakugo comedy tradition, Sun is both raucously funny and darkly satirical in its portrait of a Japan dominated by greed, corruption, lust and general idiocy.