features home

Bunraku 2010

Directed By Guy Moshe

Production Design: Chris Farmer




A mysterious drifter (Josh Hartnett) and an ardent young Japanese warrior Yoshi (Gackt) both arrive in a town that is terrorized by outrageous and virulent criminals. Each is obsessed with his separate mission, and guided by the wisdom of The Bartender (Woody Harrelson) at the Horseless Horseman Saloon, the two eventually join forces to bring down the corrupt and contemptuous reign of Nicola (Ron Perlman), the awesomely evil "woodcutter" and his lady Alexandra (Demi Moore), a femme fatale with a secret past. This classic tale is re-vitalized and re-imagined in an entirely fresh visual context, set in a unique world that mixes skewed reality with shadow-play fantasy, a place where even the landscape can betray you.



More Bunraku Images

Toronto Film Festival Reviews.


Working with archetypal characters and grand themes such as revenge and the nature of evil, Moshe (who previously directed the low-budget indie Holly) wants Bunraku to have a mythic, almost timeless quality in its storytelling. At the same time, he, cinematographer Juan Ruiz Anchia, and production designer Chris Farmer have dreamed up a world that feels cutting-edge with its colourful and noir-ish comic-book sets, not to mention the occasional incorporation of animation and even dance choreography into the overall aesthetic. As a result, Bunraku is a film that feels both fable-like and contemporary, placing commonplace characters into a rambunctiously ambitious visual creation.

Toronto Film Scene

Bunraku feels like a movie that a lot of filmmakers have been trying to make for a very, very long time. What makes the film work, where others have failed, is that it takes a very simple premise – seeking revenge on the guy at the top – and filters that through very complex, diverse and beautiful art forms on top of intricate and exciting fight sequences.
Amongst Bunraku’s early buzz from the filmmakers and programmers, much has been made of the film’s “pop-up-book” aesthetic. But on an artistic level, and certainly an art direction level, the film goes way beyond just that one gimmick. It adeptly borrows from and pays homage to artistic styles ranging from comic book panels and scale modeling to early Soviet animation, without being beholden to any one in particular.

The Torontoist

Beyond brilliant genre conceits and a talented cast, the true goldmine of the film is its visual style. Moshe somehow finds a way to mix hyper-realism (à la Zack Snyder) with a minimalistic set design in which nearly everything seems to be constructed of folded paper. Even the backdrops are two-dimensional expanses, as in the puppet shows for which the film is named. With everything sifted through a sumptuous colour palette and framed with sweeping pans and clever transitions, the whole experience is pure, unadulterated fun.

The Film Stage

Bunraku is set in a dystopian future where guns are banned and the blade is the weapon of choice. The stylized world, with scenery made of folding paper and lighting that adjusts to moods, is unlike anything ever put to celluloid. Early comparisons to Robert Rodriguez‘s Sin City, are just plain inaccurate. No movie has ever looked like this.


In an amalgam of samurai film, spaghetti western and chop socky – and using a stylish blend of neo-noir, German expressionism and Russian futurism – director Guy Moshe’s debut feature Bunraku is nothing short of ambitious. Characters in the world of Bunraku spin and ricochet against a backdrop that resembles a pop-up-book made of origami, ever-changing and whirring like a steam driven Victorian theatre set.Completely unique while drawing upon a myriad of classical influences, Bunraku emerges as a visually stunning and adrenaline pumping blend of flavours old and new, east and west.

The Film Buff blog

The words "stunning", "spellbinding", and "revelation" are all terms that anyone who is critiquing a film should shun away from. However, in the case of Guy Moshe's Bunraku there are no more fitting words to describe this gem of a film.The art design of the film is, yes... here goes, "stunning" to say the least. The entire film is one giant feast for the eyes, a myriad of colours and practical magic effects that transports you into this fantastic world. The action and fight sequences are heavily influenced by Broadway musicals and are both beautifully choreographed and brutal.

The Hollywood Reporter

Guy Moshe's “Bunraku” is like a sumptuous banquet in which every course is dessert -- in other words, too much of a good thing. Intriguing in its design and eye-popping with its fight choreography, this cartoonish film aspires to Hong Kong martial arts by way of spaghetti westerns, video games and samurai films. Moshe, who wrote and directed, creates a boldly expressionistic alternate reality to background this heavy-on-the-action story.