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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...

DODES'KA-DEN

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RED BEARD

At the end of the Tokugawa Period, a young man returns to Edo after several years' study at a Dutch medical school in Nagasaki. Told to make a formal call at the public clinic and pay his respects to ... More »

JUDO SAGA

Kurosawa's first film was produced in 1943 - a time when a film could be rejected by the Information Bureau for showing American influence, though Judo Saga was safe in its portrayal of Japanese ... More »

HIGH AND LOW

Gondo, the production head of a shoe factory, mortgages his house and belongings to gain control of the company. Before he proceeds, a kidnapper rings and asks for a large amount of money for 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 »

NO REGRETS FOR OUR YOUTH

The theme of the film is based on the famous Takikawa Incident of 1933, which forced the resignation of Professor Yukitoki Takikawa from the faculty of Kyoto University for his supposed "communistic ... More »

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