With English subtitles and liner notes. NTSC, Region Code 2. 92 minutes. Wonderful DVD of bunraku. Bunraku, puppet theatre, dates back about 400 years. Apart from the striking puppets, the gidayu, the narrator and the shamisen player are entrancing in their roles. The gidayu takes on the role of an actor, speaking for all the characters, in a mixture of speech, chanting and song. The puppeteers work in unision with eachother, the narrator and shaimisen player.
Bunraku and kabuki share the same repertoire. Many famous kabuki plays were originally written for bunraku. Plays were originally divided into six 'dan' or acts, one act lasting between 45 minutes and 1 hour. This was later changed to five acts, with one act or dan itself divided into three parts, an opening, middle and closing. The puppets of the major characters are fairly large requiring three puppeteers to operate them. Other minor roles are operated by one pupeteer. The magic of a bunraku performance is these large and ornate puppets come to life, through the impressive team work of narrator, shamisen player and of course all of the puppeteers.
Yoshitsune Senbon Zakura- Yoshitsune and the Thousand Cherry Trees, is one of the three masterpieces of Bunraku. The play was first performed in 1747 and is set during the Genji-Heike civil wars of the 12th century. The role of Yoshitsune is fairly peripheral, being the character around which his retainers and enemies act. Vol.1 has three acts - Daijo Sendo Gosho no Dan , Kitasaga no Dan and Horikawa Gosho no Dan. Yoshitsune defeated the rival Heike clan, but the shogun suspects him and sends Yoshitsune's father-in-law to ask three questions; why he sent three heads to Yoritomo, claiming they were those of Heike generals? was the precious shoulder drum given as a gift to Yoshitsune meant to persuade him to overthrow his brother?, and why he married Kyo no Kimi, a woman of Heike birth?
Performed in 2001 at the National Theatre in Tokyo by Bunsho Yoshda, Tamakou Yoshida, Kanju Kiritake, Nanbudayu Takemoto, Seitaro Tsuruzawa, Shimadayu Toyotake and others.