Few weapons achieve iconic status, but the samurai sword would definitely belong at the top of that short list. Samurai Sword: Making of a Legend examines the weapon's rich history, painstakingly detailed artistry, and spiritual significance.
The sword has its origins in 10th century Feudal Japan. They were designed for use by the samurai, an exclusive company of warriors who were heralded as the most elite and skilled of their time. The top tier of their fighting weaponry was the Katana sword, which was constructed with a unique type of steel that had the precision and balance to cut fine threads and the power to slice an enemy in half. The film travels to the only remaining factory in Japan that still produces the rare sword. It's a weapon that's steeped in tradition and given birth through unparalleled craftsmanship, pure raw steel, and a surge of molten fire.
In these circles, sword making is still looked upon as sacred art. The privileged few who are chosen to serve as apprentice swordsmiths must train for years before they are considered masters of their craft. For them, entry into this selective circle is the ultimate honor, and places them in the pantheon of a proud tradition that dates back thousands of years.
Viewers witness each step of the swordsmith process throughout the course of the film. We're shown the careful selection of each of the sword's raw materials, its first casting in unbearably hot temperatures and the many months that are devoted to perfecting the weapon's final design and presentation. It's impossible not to be awed by the exacting detail and diligence with which these artists work. Even more remarkable are the characteristics that make each of the swords unique; no one sword is the exactly the same as another.
Technology might have advanced the force and magnitude of modern weaponry by leaps and bounds, but the man-made samurai sword has proven an immortal classic that can't be surpassed. As we marvel at the craftsmanship on display, Samurai Sword: Making of a Legend also offers insights from a panel of scholars who place the weapon in its historical, societal and spiritual context.
Directed by: John Wate