Three powerful rivals are among the many warlords vying for control of late sixteenth-century Japan. Shingen Takeda, with the best cavalry in the country, is on the verge of defeating Nobunaga Oda and Ieyasu Tokugawa and marching into the capital city of Kyoto. During a campaign Shingen’s younger brother Nobukado, who has been acting as his double on the battlefield, rescues a thief condemned to crucifixion because of the man’s striking resemblance to Shingen.
Shingen himself is fatally wounded during the siege of one of Ieyasu’s castles, but before he dies he instructs his clan to keep his death a secret for at least three years, never venturing outside their fief’s boundaries. The generals obey, and begin deceiving their own troops and the enemies’ spies by presenting the thief as Shingen in both public and private life―on the battle field and with his grandson and mistress at home.
Shingen7s son, Katsuyori, who has been passed over in succession to the leadership of the Takeda Clan in favor of the little grandson, shows his dissatisfaction with the generals’ decision. He tries to trick the double in a clan battle conference, and he sets out into battle on his own. But his father’s standards come to back him up with the double at their head. The Takeda Clan wins the battle, but Katsuyori still resents his dead father’s control.
When the three years are nearly over the double one day tries to ride the dead lord’s horse, which throws the stranger from its back. The double’s identity is revealed, he is dismissed, and Katsuyori assumes leadership of the clan. He leads the Takeda armies out of their domain against the generals’ advice, and all are destroyed by the guns of the future unifiers of Japan, Nobunaga and Ieyasu. The rejected double looks on helplessly, and then takes up a spear and charges to his own death against the guns.
- Akira Kurosawa
- Akira Kurosawa
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