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|The Men Who Tread on the Tiger's Tail|
|Directed by||Akira Kurosawa|
|Screenplay by||Akira Kurosawa|
|Based on|| Kanjinchō |
by Namiki Gohei III
by Kanze Kojiro Nobumitsu
|Produced by||Motohiko Ito|
|Edited by||Toshio Goto|
|Music by||Tadashi Hattori|
|Distributed by||Toho Company Ltd.|
The Men Who Tread on the Tiger's Tail (Japanese: 虎の尾を踏む男達, Hepburn: Tora no O o Fumu Otokotachi) is a 1945 Japanese period drama film written and directed by Akira Kurosawa, based on the kabuki play Kanjinchō , which is in turn based on the Noh play Ataka . It depicts a famous 12th century incident in which Yoshitsune and a small group of samurai cross into enemy territory disguised as monks.
The film was initially banned by the occupying Supreme Commander of the Allied Powers (SCAP), likely due to its portrayal of feudal values. Kurosawa blamed bureaucratic sabotage by the wartime Japanese censors, who also disapproved. It was later released in 1952 following the signing of the Treaty of San Francisco. 
In 1185, the Heike clan fights against the Minamoto clan. After a bloody naval battle in the Seto Inland Sea, Yoshitsune Minamoto defeats the enemy and the survivors commit suicide. When the triumphant Yoshitsune arrives in Kyoto, his brother, the Shogun Yoritomo, is uneasy and orders his men to arrest Yoshitsune. However, Yoshitsune escapes with six loyal samurai led by Benkei and they head to the country of his only friend Hidehira Fujiwara. Near the border, after crossing the forest disguised as monks, their porter discovers that they are Yoshitsune and the six samurai and advises that the fearful Kajiwara and his soldiers are waiting for them at the border to arrest them. Yoshitsune disguises as a porter and at the barrier, Benkei has to convince Kajiwara that they are six monks traveling to collect donations to repair the Todai temple in Nara.
According to Stephen Prince, Akira Kurosawa was in preproduction on a film about the Battle of Nagashino and Oda Nobunaga's use of firearms to defeat an enemy clan mounted on horseback with swords and spears, but his vision surpassed his resources.  In the last years of World War II, Japan was suffering from extreme privation and Toho had to make do with severely restricted means, such as spotty electricity often leaving them unable to light their sets. So Kurosawa switched to a new film, writing the script for The Men Who Tread on the Tiger's Tail in a single night and promising the studio he would need only one set to make it.  [lower-alpha 1]
Prince writes that Kurosawa subverts the famous twelfth-century incident that the film adapts by depicting Benkei in full Noh-style costume and "furnishing the seriousness and reverence that everyone expects from the story" with Noh flute and drum music throughout.  The director also radically adds a new character in the porter played by comedian Ken'ichi Enomoto, whose "jabbering undercuts the pomposity of the feudal rituals".  According to Prince, Japanese censors found it rude that Kurosawa was making fun of a sacred historical incident and, perhaps because of this, they did not give their file on the film to the censors of the Supreme Commander of the Allied Powers. 
Japanese censors failed to give a file on the film to the censors of the Supreme Commander of the Allied Powers, thus 1945's The Men Who Tread on the Tiger's Tail was banned as an "illegal, unreported" production.  It was not released in Japan until 1952.
The Criterion Collection has released The Men Who Tread on the Tiger's Tail on DVD in North America as part of two 2009 Kurosawa-centered box sets; The First Films of Akira Kurosawa, the 23rd entry in their Eclipse series, and AK 100: 25 Films by Akira Kurosawa. 
Critic David Conrad has said that the character of the porter, who does not exist in the original Noh or kabuki plays, prefigures Kurosawa's later commoner characters like the woodcutter in Rashomon and the villagers in Seven Samurai . "The presence of a low-class character among the high and mighty helps anchor the story in familiar ground, and the porter is free to express thoughts that proper samurai leave unsaid... Each of Kurosawa's later jidaigeki , and many of his gendaigeki as well, would use characters of different castes and classes to achieve something similar to this dynamic. His stories play out in three-dimensional social worlds, allowing him to explore events and themes from multiple perspectives." 
Akira Kurosawa was a Japanese filmmaker and painter who directed thirty films in a career spanning over five decades. He is widely regarded as one of the most important and influential filmmakers in the history of cinema. Kurosawa displayed a bold, dynamic style, strongly influenced by Western cinema yet distinct from it; he was involved with all aspects of film production.
Seven Samurai is a 1954 Japanese epic samurai drama film co-written, edited, and directed by Akira Kurosawa. The story takes place in 1586 during the Sengoku period of Japanese history. It follows the story of a village of desperate farmers who seek to hire rōnin to combat bandits who will return after the harvest to steal their crops.
Ran is a 1985 epic action drama film directed, edited and co-written by Akira Kurosawa. The plot derives from William Shakespeare's King Lear and includes segments based on legends of the daimyō Mōri Motonari. The film stars Tatsuya Nakadai as Hidetora Ichimonji, an aging Sengoku-period warlord who decides to abdicate as ruler in favor of his three sons.
Throne of Blood is a 1957 Japanese jidaigeki film co-written, produced, edited, and directed by Akira Kurosawa, with special effects by Eiji Tsuburaya. The film transposes the plot of William Shakespeare's play Macbeth from Medieval Scotland to feudal Japan, with stylistic elements drawn from Noh drama. The film stars Toshiro Mifune and Isuzu Yamada in the lead roles, modelled on the characters Macbeth and Lady Macbeth.
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Minamoto no Yoshitsune was a military commander of the Minamoto clan of Japan in the late Heian and early Kamakura periods. During the Genpei War, he led a series of battles which toppled the Ise-Heishi branch of the Taira clan, helping his half-brother Yoritomo consolidate power. He is considered one of the greatest and the most popular warriors of his era, and one of the most famous samurai in the history of Japan. Yoshitsune perished after being betrayed by the son of a trusted ally.
The Genpei War was a national civil war between the Taira and Minamoto clans during the late Heian period of Japan. It resulted in the downfall of the Taira and the establishment of the Kamakura shogunate under Minamoto no Yoritomo, who appointed himself as Shōgun in 1192, governing Japan as a military dictator from the eastern city of Kamakura.
Saitō Musashibō Benkei, popularly known as simply Benkei, was a Japanese warrior monk (sōhei) who lived in the latter years of the Heian Period (794–1185). Benkei led a varied life, first becoming a monk, then a mountain ascetic, and then a rogue warrior. He later came to respect and serve the famous warrior Minamoto no Yoshitsune, also known as Ushiwakamaru. He is commonly depicted as a man of great strength and loyalty, and a popular subject of Japanese folklore, showcased in many ancient and modern literature and productions.
Ichi-no-Tani (一ノ谷) was a Taira defensive position at Suma, to the west of present-day Kobe, Japan. It sat on a very narrow strip of shore, between mountains on the north, and the sea to the south. This made it quite defensible, but also made it difficult to maneuver troops inside the fortress. The Taira suffered a crucial defeat to the forces of Yoshitsune and Noriyori.
Kajiwara Kagetoki was a samurai and retainer of the Kamakura Shogunate during the late Heian and early Kamakura period. He was a spy for Minamoto no Yoritomo in the Genpei War, and a warrior against the Taira clan. He came to be known for his greed and treachery. He was a prominent eastern warrior and supplied Minamoto no Yoshitsune with a number of ships after the Battle of Yashima.
Kanjinchō is a kabuki dance-drama by Namiki Gohei III, based on the Noh play Ataka. It is one of the most popular plays in the modern kabuki repertory.
Susumu Fujita was a Japanese film and television actor. He played the lead role in Akira Kurosawa's first feature, Sanshiro Sugata, and appeared in other Kurosawa films including The Men Who Tread On the Tiger's Tail and The Hidden Fortress. Later, he was a supporting actor in Ishirō Honda's Mothra vs. Godzilla, among many other films.
Shizuka Gozen (静御前) (1165–1211), or Lady Shizuka, one of the most famous women in Japanese history and literature, was a shirabyōshi of the 12th century, and a mistress of Minamoto no Yoshitsune. Since she, like many others, are featured largely in the Heike Monogatari, Gikeiki, and a number of plays of various traditions, her story is quite well known, but it is difficult to separate fact from fiction within it.
Yoshitsune Senbon Zakura (義経千本桜), or Yoshitsune and the Thousand Cherry Trees, is a Japanese play, one of the three most popular and famous in the Kabuki repertoire. Originally written in 1747 for the jōruri puppet theater by Takeda Izumo II, Miyoshi Shōraku and Namiki Senryū I, it was adapted to kabuki the following year.
Yoshitsune Shin-Takadachi (義経新高館), or Yoshitsune and the New Takadachi, is a Japanese jōruri (puppet) play which centers on the conflict between Minamoto no Yoshitsune and his brother, Shōgun Minamoto no Yoritomo. Though set in the 12th century, and drawing upon previous versions of the story of this conflict, the play alludes strongly to the 1615 siege of Osaka, in which the forces of the Tokugawa shogunate defeated those of the Toyotomi clan.
Ataka is a Japanese Noh play written in 1465 by Kanze Kojiro Nobumitsu.
Yoshitsune (義経) is a Japanese television drama series originally broadcast between 9 January and 11 December 2005, with a three-part special compilation being aired from 24 December to 25 December 2005. The 44th Taiga Drama, the original work is by Miyao Tomiko, screenplay by Kaneko Narito and starring Hideaki Takizawa.
Rashōmon (羅生門) is a Noh play by Kanze Nobumitsu (c.1420). Like other celebrated dramas such as the Maodori-hasi and Ibaraki, it is based on the legend of Watanabe no Tsuna and the demon of Rashōmon.
The letter from Koshigoe is a 12th century document written by Minamoto no Yoshitsune to Minamoto no Yoritomo from the city of Koshigoe.
Eboshi-ori is a Noh play of the 16th century by Miyamasu.