One would think that Musashi’s legendary fame would have inspired a constant stream of movies, animation and the like. However there are really only three significant film works about the samurai. All three works have their own style interpreting the story based on the definitive book “Musashi” by Yoshikawa Eiji.
The Classic, Musashi Miyamoto, was made in 1954 and is the first of a three part series. The two remaining parts of the trilogy are seen in movies Duel at Ichijoji Temple (1955) and Duel at Ganryu Island (1956). All three movies starred Torisho Mifune as Miyamoto Musashi and the first of the three won an honorary Academy Award for best foreign language film.
The next series revolving around Musashi is a five film epic that chronicles the life of this enigmatic man in some detail. All five movies (released between 1961-1965) starred Nakamura Kinnosuke as Miyamoto Musashi. The first of the five part series is known as Zen & Sword (1961); followed by Showdown at Hannyazakaz also known as Dual at Devil’s Mask Pass (1962). The third movie in this series is Elevation to the Two Sword Style and was released in 1963. The next film was released in 1964 and is entitled Duel at Ichijoji Temple. The final part of this Musashi film marathon is The Final Duel released in 1965.
It would be about 40 years before the world would see another significant production on the life of Miyamoto Musashi. In 2003 the Japanese broadcasting company NHK released one “Taiga,” the name NHK gives to the annual, year-long historical fiction television series it has been broadcasting in Japan since 1963. The 2003 Taiga centered on Miyamoto Musashi. The series consisted of 49 one hour episodes which provides a comprehensive look at the life of Musashi.