Yasushi Suto, Ryusuke Imoto, Mutsumi Kitaoka
Takuya Kimura, Haruka Ayase, Hio Miyazawa, Somegoro Ichikawa, Miki Nakatani, Takuma Otoo, Takumi Saitoh, Hideaki Ito, Kinya Kitaohji
The story of a man and a woman that extends over 30 years in the Warring State period
Set in medieval times, this film is based on the Honno-ji incident, a pivotal moment in Japan's history. It involved the warlord, Oda Nobunaga, who was betrayed and assassinated by his most trusted subject at Honno-ji temple. Before his assassination, he had almost succeeded in his promise to end 100 years of civil wars. By ruling over all the domains, he would have become King of a unified Japan.
The legend has it that Nobunaga was the son of a local warlord. His mysterious ascent to power is attributed to his wife, Lady Noh. Known for her bravery and intelligence, Lady Noh guided her husband in a manner similar to Lady Macbeth.
The film begins with their first encounter in a political marriage. Initially, they hate each other but when they realize that they have a mutual interest in unifying Japan, they become a formidable force. They seize Kyoto, Japan's imperial capital, and Nobunaga declares he is King, which antagonizes many warlords.
As a pioneering strategist, Nobunaga introduces Western firearms to Japan's warfare. As a result of his revolutionary tactics, there are many more fatalities than prior wars. At the time, Catholicism is new to Japan and he uses it against the Buddhists with whom he is at war. He eventually calls himself a demon King as he massacres Buddhists who oppose him -- men, women and children.
"I kill all my enemies before they kill me. There's no turning back now!"
As the carnage of war rages on, Nobunaga sinks into madness. But unlike Macbeth, Nobunaga does not cause his own demise. Lady Noh is also different to the more manipulative Lady Macbeth. Lady Noh's love for Nobunaga helps him regain his humanity... just in time for his final moments at Honno-ji temple.
The film follows one of Japan's most celebrated married couples. Yet they are never named. This anonymity makes their story relatable as it could be applicable to anyone in any time. It's basically the story of kings and queens in any country. It's a story of a husband and a wife. If the film reminded you of Douglas Sirk's melodramas, it would make me a happy filmmaker! I'd also like it to be reminiscent of Akira Kurosawa's later movies, without the stylish grandeur.
What makes us human in the midst of war carnage?
It's necessary to ask ourselves that so we can understand the impact of the cruelty of wars and what they do to us. The question is more relevant than ever as world leaders cause confusion throughout the world. The film attempts to explore these musings through the life of a husband and a wife, the smallest unit of human society.
By the time you hear Nobunaga's famous last words in the film, he's no longer a mystical heroic figure. He is a living, breathing human being, as I intended to depict him. I hope you'll enjoy their story.