Action/Historic movie
1980 Paramount pictures corporation
Executive producer: James Clavell
Producer/Write: Eric Bercovici
Directed by Jerry London
Based on the novel by James Clavell
Music composed & conducted by Maurice Jarre
Richard Chamberlain as Captain Blackthorn
Toshiro Mifune as Toronaga
Yoko Shimada as Mariko
Frankie Sakai as Yabu
Alan Badel as Dell'Aqua
Micheal Hordern as Friar Domingo
Damien Thomas as Martin Alvito
John Rhys-Davies as Rodrigues
Vladek Sheybal as Captain Ferriera
George Innes as Vinck
Leon Lissek as Sebastio
Yuki Meguro as Omi

Plot Summary

After 600 years of civil war, Japan approached the 17th century as a torn and cruelly divided country governed by a council of regions whose members were mainly concerned with extending their own power.

Finally, the struggle narrowed down to two men, Yoshi Toronaga, lord of the Canton and Ishido Kasumare, master of Osaka Castle. But neither men could seize control until carried by the winds of storm, then a Dutch war ship enters Japanese waters piloted by an English man

His name was Blackthorn and he rapidly became a protegee of Toronaga who even gave him the grade of Samurai. But when Blackthorn first set foot on Japanese land, he had the unpleasant surprise to find some Portuguese who were already well established there. In those days the Portuguese and the English were enemies.

The main trading is made with the help of some Jesuit priests who converted many Japanese to the Catholic religion and even some Samurais. And every year comes the Blackship that brings back the treasures to Portugal.


This is one of my favorite epic series. Very well done and with very nice scenery.

Vladek Sheybal plays the Blackship's Captain, Ferriera. This is not such a small role and as usual, he plays it brilliantly. But he is a villain (of course) and he is almost obsessed with the idea of killing Captain Blackthorn and sinking his ship. He has a lot of power as Captain of the Blackship and governor of Macao (a port in China). He even defies the authority of the priests. Specially in those days, this was a very bold thing to do.


Brother Alvito just came back from his visit to Lord Toronaga and meets with Captain Ferriera and The Cardinal (Eminence).

Ferriera: "How bad?"
Brother Alvito: "Very bad Captain Ferriera, Toronaga has been interrogating the English man, Blackthorn"
Ferriera: "The sooner that this heretic is dead, the better!"

Ferriera: " And... what else did the Japo say?"
Brother Alvito: "Lord Toronaga requestS a written explanation of our conquest in the new world. And, the amount of gold and silver taken back to Spain and Portugal from the Americas"
Ferriera: "This must absolutely be refused!"

Cardinal: "You cannot refuse Toronaga"
Ferriera: "Without my Blackship, their whole economy would collapse!"

Ferriera telling to the Cardinal how important the trading is to the Japanese.

Cardinal: "It's true they need us, but we need them more!"
Ferriera: "You must excuse me your Eminence, but sometimes it is necessary for soldiers to do God's work!"

Cardinal: "I must ask you Captain, formally, not to even think of interfering with internal politics in this country!
Ferriera (after stating that he has the authority to do so): If I choose to eliminate Toronaga, or any one else... I will!"

The Cardinal threatens to excommunicate him if he interferes and orders him again not to interfere.
Ferriera: "Only if the internal politics do not interfere with my plans. By the blood of Christ, my Blackship will sail on time...

Cardinal: "Then our prayers will go with you!"
Ferriera: "So will your profits"

Ferriera: "But if that English Captain catches us at sea, we would lose everything!"

Ferriera: "I hope you understand that!?"
Brother Alvito: "You've made it quite clear, Captain!"
Ferriera (very softly, in a Jackson kind of way!!): "Yes!"

Ferriera: "Will you come on board to dine with me tomorrow night!?"
Cardinal: "Yes, some good food will be welcome, you're very kind!"
Ferriera (sounding like an order): "Tomorrow, at dusk!"

On board of the Blackship the day after. The Galley (wearing Toronaga's flag) is very close and Toronaga is on board with Blackthorn, his interpreter and Samurais.

Ferriera: "Any closer and I'll blow her out of the water!", Cardinal: "No!"

Ferriera:" ... with Toronaga dead, it would make things simple for us..."

"... Hmmm??" , Cardinal: "We will not interfere in their internal politics!" Ferriera: "But you interfere all the time, the society of Jesus is famous for interfering! Don't talk to me as if I'm some simple thickheaded pigeon!!"

Cardinal: "While I'm aboard, you won't sink that ship!", Ferriera: "Then kindly go ashore!"

Ferriera: "Santiago, sight for the quarter deck!" Santiago: "Aye sir, she's an easy target"

Rodrigues: "It's a waste to kill a pilot like that, Captain! We should use him!"

The Cardinal (turning the canon): "I say, thy shall not kill!" , Ferriera: "But we kill all the time, Father!"

Cardinal: "While I'm here, there will be no killing!" Ferriera gestured the order not to shoot.

Now Blackthorn is calling Rodrigues from the Galley (the ship Ferriera wanted to sink). He requests permission to come aboard for Toronaga, his interpreter and some guards. The Cardinal suggests to Ferriera to settle on 5 guards, Toronaga must bring some, it's a matter of face.

Ferriera: "Five hmmm!"

"But tell the heretic he must come as well!" Cardinal: "Why?", Ferriera: "For my amusement, Eminence... for my amusement!!"

Ferriera: "Tell him", Rodrigues (shouting to the ship): "Five guards only Anglese, but you come too!" , Blackthorn (from the other ship): "Why me??"

Ferriera: "Tell him something, pilot!" "Convince him, hmm!?"

Well, Rodrigues attracted Blackthorn with the promise of good food on board. So while he is pigging out on the food in Rodrigues' cabin, Toronaga discusses some arrangements with Ferriera to get fire-arms. At the table are also the two priests and Toronaga's interpreter, Lady Mariko.

Ferriera: "Ask him what he wants!"

Toronaga informs that he will build a cathedral for the Jesuits. Ferriera is listening. Then Toronaga says that he needs 20 fire-arms. Ferriera tells the Cardinal: "You made your deal, what's he offering me?"

Cardinal: "I beg you on behalf of the church." Ferriera: "Since you ask my help in the church's name, of course I will do what you ask!"

"But in return I ask the captain general of next year's Blackship, whether this year is successful or not!"

Cardinal (mad): "You dare ransom me and the church!!" , Ferriera: "this is merely a business arrangement between you, me and this monkey!" (pointing to Toronaga... everybody is shocked), Brother Alvito: "He is no monkey, Captain, and you better remember that!"

Ferriera ignores the shock he gave to everybody. (He seems to enjoy it in fact) Someone (?): "Surely there is something else?" , Ferriera: "I want the heretic, I want the English man!"

But someone was peeking and listening to the whole conversation on Rodrigues' orders. Rodrigues likes Blackthorn, because he saved his live once. So as soon as he's aware of the Captain's deal, he goes and throws Blackthorn overboard behind the Captain's back. That way he saved his life, because Captain Ferriera would have most certainly executed him. But when Ferriera sees that, he is not a happy man!!

Ferriera: "What have you done?", Rodrigues: "The Anglese offended me so I've thrown him overboard, what's the problem Captain?" Ferriera: "I want that man aboard!!" Rodrigues: "Then you'll have to swim after him"

Ferriera (shouting): "Damn your soul Rodrigues, you know what he cost me?", Rodrigues: "I'm sorry Captain, how was I to know that you wanted him?" Ferriera (very mad): "Put the priests ashore, we're sailing for Macao"

On the way to Macao, Captain Ferriera comes back on board with a bad news, Blackthorn has got his ship back.

He tells Rodrigues that he should have killed him when it was in his power. Rodrigues said that he will if he gets the chance.

Ferriera says: "That's easy to say!" and then Rodrigues gets mad.

They are both mad at each other and ready to fight. But they stop.

Ferriera and Rodrigues fix each other for a while. Then Ferriera put his sword back and takes a distance. Ferriera: "Sail, Rodrigues, sail for Macao!"

Much later in the story, Blackthorn, who has been injured and lost his eyesight, comes to the Galley escorted by the Cardinal and a bunch of Christian Samurai. They want to go on board, but Ferriera is in the way with all his men and won't let them pass.

The Cardinal confronts Ferriera for his presence in front of the Galley. Ferriera says he wants Blackthorn. The Cardinal says that he will not have him.

Ferriera insists even after the Cardinal threatened to excommunicate him and all his men.

The eminence says that he will remove him of command if he doesn't go back to his ship. Ferriera says: "You don't have that power".

The tension builds up and Ferriera takes out his gun and shouts: "God curses you, Anglese".

But the Samurais were ready and they throw a few arrows before he can pull the trigger.

Ferriera is dead!


This page by Nathalie Audet, Canada (, member of the Fab-Ufo List