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| | 1 hr 56 min | Drama, Foreign

Rikyu (, Rikyu?, 1989) is Hiroshi Teshigahara's film about the 16th century master of the Japanese tea ceremony, Sen no Riky. The film focuses on the late stages of life of Riky, during the highly turbulent Sengoku period of Feudal Japan. It starts near the end of Oda Nobunaga's reign, with Riky serving as tea master to Nobunaga, and continues into the Momoyama Period. Riky is portrayed as a man thoroughly dedicated to aesthetics and perfection, especially in relation to the art of tea. While serving as tea master to the new ruler Toyotomi Hideyoshi, Riky finds himself in a uniquely privileged position, with constant access to the powerful feudal lord and the theoretical ability to influence policy, yet he studiously avoids deep involvement in politics while attempting to focus his full attention to the study and teachings of the way of tea. To the extent that he expresses himself, he does so diplomatically, in a way to avoid disrupting the harmony of his relationship with Hideyoshi. Yet, as society is changed violently and radically around him, also finding himself the focus of jealousy and misdirected suspicions, Riky ultimately can not avoid confronting larger social issues. He is compelled to express an opinion on Hideyoshi's military plans. This one breach of his studied isolation from world affairs leads quickly to tragic consequences. Director Teshigahara, himself a master and teacher of the Japanese traditional art of ikebana, brings the viewer into appreciation and deep sympathy for Rikyu's aesthetic idealism and his careful diplomatic efforts to avoid excessive entanglement in political affairs. The film itself is very studied in its aestheticism, and very expressive of the shocking force of life intruding into the guarded hermetic space of the artist/idealist.

Rentaro Mikuni, Tsutomu Yamazaki, Hisashi Igawa, Yoshiko Mita, Koshiro Matsumoto
Hiroshi Teshigahara
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