Produced over a two-year period, Kenji Mizoguchi's version of the oft-filmed Seika Mayama story The 47 Ronin was too big to be confined to a single film. Thus, it was released in two parts, each running between 105 and 115 minutes. The story begins in feudal Japan in December of 1701, when warrior leader Lord Asano is tricked into committing Hara-Kiri. Oishi, Asano's loyal clansman, holds the wicked Lord Kira responsible. 14 months after Arano's death, Oishi assembles 47 loyal Ronin (samurai) to exact vengeance. Director Mizoguchi abandoned his usual fascination with modern-day social problems in favor of epic patriotism (remember, the film was made while Japan was still winning World War II.