Wednesday 24 September 2008

Yojimbo (The Bodyguard) [1961]

Though not as universally renowned as Rashomon or Seven Samurai, Yojimbo is often considered to be Akira Kurosawa’s most influential work. If not anything, it remains one of the most quintessential and archetypal lone ranger movies ever made – a template that was famously remade into the spaghetti western For A Few Dollars More by Sergio Leone. Sanjuro (brilliantly played by Kurosawa regular Toshiro Mifune), the original 'Man With No Name', is a bored, detached and laconic Samurai. He is seemingly devoid of morals, friends and rules. But he believes in vigilante justice – the kind where end justifies the means, and he becomes doubly effective because he is a master swordsman with no equals. So when he decides to play the two sides of a warring faction of a ravaged village against each other, his principle foe turns out to be, quite appropriately, a character straight out of Western movies – a crafty, gun-slinging antagonist. The brutal action sequences have been magnificently juxtaposed with terrific character developments and moments of subtle humanism; case in point: the scene of a dog casually strolling by with a piece of a person’s chopped-off hand in its mouth is as jarring to the senses, as the beautifully composed background score played during the movie’s love-story sub-plot is moving. Stellar performances by the two principle leads add to the dynamic energy and flashes of dark humour of the script.

Director: Akira Kurosawa
Genre: Action/Adventure/Samurai Film
Language: Japanese
Country: Japan


Anonymous said...

The most "western" Japanese movie ever...

Shubhajit said...