With Ghost of Tsushima, Sony released an homage to Japanese cinema, which was shaped by Akira Kurosawa in the middle of the last century. With completely new film techniques at the time, which are now taught as standard, the director created his very own look. Ghost of Tsushima adapts this style not only through Kurosawa mode, which gives the game a little more wind, a black and white filter and a tinny sound.
Many elements of the game world take up the stylistic range of the samurai cinema and there are many innuendos to discover, not just the Kurosawa films.
A stylistic element that Akira Kurosawa established in his early films is the background movement. The combination of dynamic elements out of focus and a calm foreground creates a strong contrast and thus tension. Kurosawa mostly created this effect with the help of nature, such as through rain, fog, snow, but also sometimes with dust or completely different things. Ghost of Tsushima (buy now for € 224.19) uses this stylistic device constantly, especially with the mentioned elements of nature. Falling leaves in the background are particularly attractive due to the colorful flora of Tsushima. Many of the optional duels in the game take place in special locations where the stylistic device comes into its own. A ride through Tsushima also shows the details of the particle effects. The textures of the game are often not worth mentioning and even muddy in some places. The whirled up snow while crossing the wintry areas, a rising wind that causes leaves to swirl, or the sparks of a fire that is currently consuming the house of a farmer, ensure a dynamic visual language. Later samurai films also use this effective production again and again. For example, what would a lady snowblood be without the thick flakes falling peacefully in the background while the snow in the foreground turns deep red?
Contrast between nature and violence
The contrast between nature and violence is another stylistic device that is often used in the samurai cinema. Although Japan covers a relatively small area, the country has a large geological and climatic diversity. From cherry blossom groves to snowy mountain peaks to tropical bamboo forests: Japan is very diverse! In reality, the island of Tsushima consists only of green forest areas, but in the game it is represented with the entire topographical diversity of Japan. In contrast, there is extreme violence. Blood spurts from here and limbs are separated. This contrast also applies in samurai films. Crucial encounters are usually staged in front of a great natural backdrop.
Source: PC Games
Duels between two individual warriors are not uncommon. In the film, these showdowns are legendary and are portrayed extremely stylized. One of the art of samurai, for example, is to draw the sword completely noiselessly and to put it back into the vagina just as silently after the fight. Jin Sakai, the protagonist in Ghost of Tsushima, masters this maneuver to perfection. The mostly very slow movements of the samurai at the beginning of the fight seem strange at first, but there is a good reason: The Japanese sword – called katana – is comparatively difficult. In order to be able to take a stable fighting stance and not to reveal a weak point to the enemy by moving too quickly, sword masters move extremely slowly and precisely. In Japanese film, these movements often result in almost a kind of dance, which is repeatedly hinted at in Ghost of Tsushima. An absolute classic of the genre, which also offers one of the most nerve-wracking duels in film history, is Harakiri by Masaki Kobayashi. The film celebrates the art of sword fighting in a duel between Hanshiro and Hikokuro like no other.
In Ghost of Tsushima, you have to stop the Mongol invasion with a few allies. What sounds like an impossible task is a recurring motif in many samurai films: heroes face a hopeless situation and have to defeat an overwhelming majority of opponents with skill, their individual skill with the sword and sometimes with dishonest cunning. In Seven Samurai, the eponymous seven, together with sparsely trained farmers, face an entire bandit clan. The samurai use tactics that do not comply with the code, but are a strategic feat. In 13 Assassins, on the other hand, a group of ninjas and samurai must stop the well-trained following of a criminal lord. Just by trying to kill the prince – who is also the shogun's brother – they are already violating the samurai code. The village, which has been converted into a true slaughterhouse, and the traps it contains do not in any way correspond to the honor that is associated with samurai. However, the purpose here justifies the means: At the beginning of the film we learn which beast is the brother of the supreme ruler.
In the film Harakiri, a single father battles an unscrupulous samurai clan. Here the honor reference turns into the opposite. Hanshiro, a Ronin and caring father, defeats a number of opponents in duels and in open combat with the entire clan, thus avenging the death of his children. Since he is obviously unstoppable, he is shot with guns – a particularly dishonorable way of killing an enemy. The choice between trickery and honor must be made again and again, both in samurai films and in the game. When you face a large group of enemies in Ghost of Tsushima, you can either challenge them in an honorable duel or eliminate them by sneaky assassinations. The story of the hero himself is also about the loss of honor, which he willingly accepts in order to save his homeland Tsushima.
Honorable, sedentary warrior lords and stray Ronin: Although they both belong to the samurai caste and have a code of honor, Ronin is often shown in the film as cunning, cunning and cowardly, while samurai is shown as steadfast and dignified. In reality, Ronin were just abandoned samurai and therefore quite poor pigs, as their status made it almost impossible for them to do civil work. So they were mostly forced to travel around the country and look for new masters. Ghost of Tsushima takes up the Ronin theme with numerous outfits, but also with a special secondary character: Ryuzo – an old friend of Jin – is not actually called Ronin. However, he and his gang of straw hats embody all the characteristics of the Ronin clichés known from the films. Nevertheless, they are excellent fighters. No samurai film deals with this as strongly as in the film series Lone Wolf and Cub, which is based on the comic of the same name: Ronin Ogami Itto and his son Daigoro are often attacked by straw hat-wearing murderers, who Itto often brutally To be fended off.
In Ghost of Tsushima there are of course many larger and smaller allusions to samurai films. For example, we find a burial site in the style of Seven Samurai. The flashing red of a kill in the mind-fighting stance stems from the comedy Samurai Fiction. The snowy garden from Lady Snowblood – which was already quoted in Kill Bill – can also be found in the game. Many armor, hats, masks and weapons are small allusions to iconic heroes and villains of samurai cinema.
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In Kurosawa mode you play in black and white and with a tinny sound. In addition, the wind is a little stronger. (Source: PC Games)
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