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YOJIMBO

Japan, 1961 (MIFF 1963)

Director: Akira Kurosawa

In the middle of the 19th century, at Namome, on a highway north of Edo, crime is rife. Sanjuro, a wandering Samurai, arrives to find the village decimated by some long lasting feud. Hansuke, a petty police official, offers to introduce him to one of the local bosses as a bodyguard.

The village is split into two rival gangs. Seibei is the leader of one but he has been double-crossed by Ushitora, his chief henchman. Solicited by both factions, Sanjuro concludes that it is not worthwhile to join either parly and finds himself a peacemaker, trying to keep one side from dominating the other. Gradually his wits and sword restore peace to the village - anyway, to those that are left - and he stalks away.

Kurosawa tells this tale with a real sense of the macabre. Stylistically it is his most commanding film for throughout, the style dominates the content. People move with great dramatic flourishes, the music acting as a counterpoint to the emotions. The ferocious battles are presented with all the director's old cunning and virtuosity.

Mifune is titanic in the part. Alternating between sullen silences and swift violent outbursts his performance gives the film an extraordinary tension. Award: Best Actor, Venice Festival.

See also...

LIVING

After Rashoman, Akira Kurosawa adapted Dostoevsky's "The Idiot" for the screen. When this film failed to win critical approval in Japan, he made Living, a modern story which established him as the ... More »

THE BAD SLEEP WELL

The daughter of the president of a government housing corporation marries her father's secretary. At the wedding ceremony, corruption is hinted at in the corporation; there is a police inquiry, and ... More »

THE IDIOT

Dostoevsky is Kurosawa's favourite author, and in Prince Myushikin, he admires the character's compassion and near godlike quality. ... In The Idiot, Prince Myushikin becomes a Japanese returning ... More »

SANJURO

A group of young aspiring samurai, all highly serious and idealistic, meet Sanjuro, an older samurai. ... His appearance shocks them. He is dirty, unkempt and sloppy, and his manners at times the ... More »

THE QUIET DUEL

A young doctor contracts syphilis while operating on a soldier during the war. ... On returning to Tokyo, he enters private practice in the family clinic, but has to face the problems of his love for ... More »

DODES'KA-DEN

Akira Kurosawa's first film in five years centres on the inhabitants of a shanty-town society. ... The town is little more than an ugly array of metal sheets and tar paper shacks resembling the city ... More »

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