Bernard Rose Interview

This is the original English transcript of a conversation with director Bernard Rose which was part of an interview article published on February 22 by French speaking media outlet Blog Fascinant Japon to celebrate the third anniversary of the theatrical release of Samurai Marathon : Bernard Rose, un anglais au pays des samourai.

If memory serves me right, producer Jeremy Thomas suggested you could go to Japan and film Samurai Marathon with a Japanese team and cast. Could you remind our readers of the project’s premises?

Jeremy Thomas had made a number of films with Nakazawa Toshiaki (’13 Assassins’ being the best known). Nakazawa suggested Samurai Marathon to Jeremy as a coproduction, which he had already developed as a screenplay by Saito Hiroshi from the novel by Dobashi Akihiro. Jeremy had the idea that a western director could bring something different to the genre and asked me if I would be interested in taking it on.

The idea of making a Samurai movie in Japan was impossible to refuse, so I went to Tokyo to meet with Nakazawa and Yamagishi Kikumi who run Sedic productions. We took a trip up to Shonai where Sedic have a standing set of a Samurai village and scouted the amazing ancient forests in that region. 

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Samurai Marathon US Bluray

Director Bernard Rose‘s Samurai Marathon is now available on DVD (region 1) and Bluray (region A) in the USA. The movie is truly entertaining and offers a well-balanced mix of action and drama with a good dose of humor. Based on actual historical facts it also has elements of modernity, in this respect the film is a fine tribute to the Samurai Cinema genre.

With Jeremy Thomas (Oscar Winner for The Last Emperor) as a producer and a Japanese stellar cast, Samurai Marathon is also a journey through the magnificent landscapes of rural Japan. Young thespians such as Takeru Satoh, Mirai Moriyama and Nana Komatsu* deliver outstanding performances. American movie goers will also enjoy Danny Huston‘s impersonation of Commander Perry.

*Actress and Chanel Ambassador Komatsu Nana was the recipient of the Rising Star Award at the New York Asian Film Festival in June 2019.


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Samurai Marathon UK Release


SAmurai Marathon release in the U.K. on January 20th 2020

Signature Entertainment, one of the leading distribution companies in the UK, will release Bernard Rose‘s movie Samurai Marathon on Monday January 2020 in a HD Digital format.

From the official press release:  Inspired by a real-life race that is still held annually in Japan, Samurai Marathon is an epic sword slasher from the team behind 13 Assassins and The Last Emperor. In the late feudal era of Japan, a young ninja (Satoh) is operating undercover in the court of an aging Lord during a peaceful era of Japan that is on the brink of change. After the Lord challenges his lazy samurais to a punishing marathon to toughen them up, the ninja finds his loyalties put to the test. Facing impossible odds, this unusual band of characters is running a race to win or die. 

Starring Takeru Satoh, Nana Komatsu, Shôta Sometani (First Love) and Danny Huston (The Aviator), Samurai Marathon is thrilling adventure with original music from legendary composer Philip Glass (A Brief History of Time, The Hours). 



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Samurai Marathon Q&A

On Friday June 28, Samurai Marathon opened the 18th edition of the New York Asian Film Festival. Director Bernard Rose was there and the film’s lead actress, Nana Komatsu, graced the evening with her presence. She had come to New York to attend the US Premiere and receive a Rising Star Award.

A couple of weeks ago, Film Lincoln Center released the video of the Q&A session. Director Bernard Rose has a pretty good sense of humour and both he and his lead actress tell a few interesting things about filming and directing in Japan.



Marathon Girl Yuki Hime

Samurai Marathon 1855 is definitely a bold take on the genre with unexpected yet thoroughly enjoyable elements of comedy. There is action too, especially when Jinnai (Takeru Satoh), Heikuro (Mirai Moriyama) and Princess Yuki Hime (Nana Komatsu) get tough on the baddies.

The film is also a must watch for the journey you get through the beautiful landscapes of the Yamagata Prefecture: kudos to Takuro Ishizaka, director of photography whose work is matched by a haunting score written by Philip Glass. For Nana Komatsu fans, it is a ‘must-not-miss’. As Princess Yuki Hime, one of the modernistic elements of the movie, she looks proud, brave and beautiful.

Here is a special post with screencaps and short clips from the film and the making of documentary. The bonus disc* is a real treat: Amazon Japan – CD Japan. *only available in the collector’s editions.



Lord Itakura’s daughter

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Samurai Marathon DVD

Bernard Rose‘s movie DVD was released in Japan on Wednesday 24 July. It is available as a standard edition or deluxe edition either on DVD or Blu-ray: Amazon JapanCD Japan. Below you’ll find selected excerpts from film reviews -with links to the original articles- illustrated with selected screen caps of Nana Komatsu as Yuki Hime.


“Our opener was a big hit, and one of our biggest opening films since Bad Genius[in 2017]. This is quite possibly the best “chambara” / samurai film I’ve seen since Takashi Miike’s 13 Assassins; it’s a bit of a paradox that an Englishman directed it, but maybe a sign that cinema can truly be without borders sometimes.” Samuel Jamier, director of the New York Asian Film Festival (source)


Eastern Kicks: “Samurai Marathon is a wonderful narrative about a less known historical fact – the first Japanese marathon. While this historical event had no true effect in the unfolding of history, Samurai Marathon succeeds, by intermingling various narrative threads into an effective narrative structure and allowing dramatic musical pieces support its unfolding, in turning this event into an exciting jidaigeki narrative. Rose might have created a somewhat atypically packaged jidaigeki, but it provides everything one should expect of a contemporary mainstream example of the genre.”

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