Yojimbo

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Nau of Sands
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Yojimbo

Postby Nau of Sands » Wed 23 Nov, 2005 02:19

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There is no entry for Y, so here comes =>

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YOJIMBO

a samuraï movie by Akira Kurosawa

the truth about Yojimbo is that it is not a pure samuraï movie : it is a mix of a western with parody of samuraï tradition.

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Sanjuro is a wandering samuraï, a ronin without master and without job. He has no name as well since Sanjuro only means his age : 30 years. (He is played by the usual leading actor with Kurosawa : [url=http://www.imdb.com/name/nm0001536/]Toshirô Mifune
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At the opening of the movie he arrives at a crossroad and has no idea where to go, so he throws a piece of wood and follows the direction it shows, which lead him to a town.

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A town that looks empty, the only living thing he meets is a dog with a cut hand.

He soons learns that the town is split in two parts : the ones with the silk dealer, and the ones with the sake merchant. Both sides have an army of hired bandits with them. Normal citizens hides, and animation occurs only when the both armies face each other, rather in menace than in action since none is sure of its strength.

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Sanjuro elaborates a strategy. In this unsympathetic town, he shows himself and his fantastic fighting capacities. Killing some henchmen is easy at first and allows him to offer his services as a Yojimbo - bodyguard to one side, then to the other. Sanjuro acts like a puppetmaster, driving the armies the one against the other, making the price of its services raises.

He is a parodic character since normal samuraïs were famous for their loyalty. Sanjuro is not. He is spiteful and amused by the trouble he brings.

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As no-one is worth interest in this town, plots occurs, with treachery planned since the beginning. All ennemies being coward, they are easy to manipulate.

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Sanjuro has a confident, an inn keeper, who holds a place where he can drink sake and watch the events going on.

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as for him, there is no point in acting since he controls the town from his hidden observation point.
Sanjuro is not a plain negative character, if a rare person is worth helping, he enters in action asking no reward. Little by little, he gets our sympathy.
But a new ronin arrives in town, overconfident since he has a gun - a very new thing here. He is ridiculous as he seems to rely on his gun whatever happens, and have his gun in hand in all everyday life events.

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but the subtle balance created by Sanjuro has disapeared, and trouble begins for him too

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This movie had a big success in Japan, and opened the way to more non-traditional samuraï movies. It is funny that Akira Kurosawa who was the first after the second world war to shoot Samuraï films (the american authorities has forbidden them) with Rashomon in 1950 was as well among the first to set up a parody of these movies with Yojimbo in 1961.

Yojimbo remains a reference in japanese cinema, and when Takeshi Kitano made a parodic samuraï movie with Zatoïchi, he reintroduced references to Yojimbo, including the weird tap-dancers who appear at some point of the movie :

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But the influences of Yojimbo went further, as some previous work of Kurosawa were adapted to western like his Seven Samuraî who became the famous western The Magnificent Seven, Yojimbo impressed another director Sergio Leone who duplicated the scenario of Yojimbo for the first "spaghetti-western", A Fistful of Dollars, Clint Eastwood playing the role of Toshiro Mifune. Actually Yojimbo is the first spaghetti western  :D
(on the matter, another Kurosawa movie, The Hidden Fortress inspired George Lucas first Star Wars Trilogy)

The film is really good, with comedy and action mixing up, and magnificient images

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it is of course worth a 6/6, it is a real classic - but this should n t stop anyone to just enjoy it for what it is, a great film  :)

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