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Mifune documentary opens in the US, honoured with Hollywood star

Mifune: The Last Samurai
The brand new Toshirō Mifune documentary Mifune: The Last Samurai had its premiere in the US theatres yesterday. Until now confined to the film festival circuit, the film should now be playing in the larger cities, although I have trouble finding out where, exactly. By this, I gather the “wide” release isn’t quite as wide as the word might imply.

Early reviews are on the whole positive, although there does seem to be a consensus of opinion that the film could have done with more depth and substance.

The film is narrated by Keanu Reeves. Here’s a trailer:

No doubt somehow connected to the documentary’s opening, Mifune also finally received his Walk of Fame star in Hollywood. This was originally announced last year.

Have you seen the film, or are you planning to go to see it? Drop a comment below if you do manage to catch it.





this documentary is now available for streaming on netflix. i haven’t checked whether this availability applies outside of the USA.

i enjoyed it, though i felt it was too short, and maybe the opening lingered a bit too long on the background of samurai films prior to the impact of kurosawa and mifune.

given mifune’s alcohol use, i wonder whether his dementia was really alzheimer’s type. it could have been alcohol-related damage, or a combination of alzheimer’s and alcohol-related causes. if he suffered a stroke, then vascular dementia could have been a component of his cognitive decline. car accidents could also have caused traumatic brain injury.



Unfortunately, its not in my Netflix region, but sometimes it takes a little time for them to release things in Europe.

I don’t know much about Mifune’s final days – I didn’t realise he had dementia. So far as I know a precise diagnosis of dementia is usually only possible post mortem, and its rarely necessary, so terms like ‘Alzheimers’ and other forms of dementia tend to be used interchangeably. Certainly, someone who lived as full a life as Mifune would have been a prime candidate for vascular dementia.



hopefully netflix will stand and deliver for you, ugetsu. 🙂

you’re right in that certain types of dementia can only be diagnosed by examining brain tissue microscopically (rarely done), but undifferentiated dementia (i.e., dementia of some sort) can be diagnosed without tissue, based on cognitive testing, history (often from family), a few blood and imaging tests to exclude other possibilities, and clinical behavior over time.

sadly, he couldn’t remember his lines toward the end of his career, though that would have been a negligible concern compared to the impact his dementia had on his day-to-day functioning and on his family.



Thanks for the heads up that this had made it’s way to Netflix. I got a chance to watch it yesterday and found it enjoyable, though I agree it was pretty superficial. They seemed to focus so much on Mifune’s working relationship with Kurosawa that I found it disappointing how little RED BEARD was discussed. I’ve always wondered what happened between the two that drove them apart, and apparently no one involved in this film seemed to know the story.

All in all, it’s an enjoyable watch, and I can see myself coming back to it again over the years. Though the narrative never does go much into depth about his personal life or much of his work outside of his Kurosawa films, I was impressed with the amount of photographs featured that I had not seen elsewhere.

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