(時代劇) are, for the purposes of this list, period Japanese movies and TV, ranging from the stately samurai films to the wilder exploitation movies. As well as samurai, we have the ronin, ninja, yakuza and just simple folk. Most are relatively straightly-told tales of swordplay, but some do head off in fantastical directions.Inclusion criteria
: Really anything set before the 20th Century, although I am prepared to be flexible if it is more rural and involves swordplay but occurs in the early 20th Century. I have also included some non-Japanese films that are set in the period and include samurai (or similar).Recurring themes
: Historical stories and characters that we often see cropping up include: Miyamoto Musashi
, The 47 Ronin
), Jubei Yagyu
and Shimizu no Jirocho.Further reading
: Patrick Galloway has released 2 books where he reviews 50 samurai films and gives profiles of the key directors and actors (but doesn't add much analysis or context, however, it is written in a nicely accessible way): Stray Dogs & Lone Wolves: The Samurai Film Handbook
(2005) and Warring Clans, Flashing Blades: A Samurai Film Companion
(2009); there is also: The Samurai Film
(2007) by Alain Silver and Samurai Films
(2008) by Roland Thorne. I haven't yet read Thorne's book but Silver's was exactly the kind of book I was looking for with an in-depth analysis of key directors, themes and characters, plus it includes a detailed filmography broken down by director or character/series or year - if you are looking to take your appreciation of jidaigeki onto a new level then that is the book for you.Links/link: 50 Classic Samurai (Chambara, Jidaigeki) Films, a solid list, Jidai Geki at TV Tropes.
See also: Yakuza and ninja films, which often have a period setting.
Availability: A number of companies have done a lot of hard work finding these films and giving them high quality home media releases: Criterion, AnimEigo, Eureka and the BFI. There are obvious problems with pre-1945 films from Japan but we still have some films from that period.
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