Friday, September 5, 2008

Top Films: More Kurosawa

Kurosawa is one of the great names in cinema belonging alongside Hitchcock and Spielberg. He excelled in several genres and adapted greats like Shakespeare and Dostoyevsky. He inspired many of the most famous films in Hollywood: The Magnificent Seven and Star Wars just to name a couple. And he created one of the great film characters of all time.

In Yojimbo and Sanjuro, Toshiro Mifune plays the rogue samurai with no name. He is a smart bum who knows how to fight. He takes advantage of situations, but gets himself in some tight spots because of his strong sense of right and wrong. Especially since he always takes pity on the weak and plays the hero. Inspired in the American characters of the hard boiled detective and the cowboy, he in turn inspired one of the most well known film cowboys: “the man with no name” played by Clint Eastwood.

Yojimbo and Sanjuro are action packed comedies. There are laughs, but there is more sword play and a lot of death. However, in both movies the samurai hates to kill, and only does so when he is forced to. When he does, though, he is a force to be reckoned with taking out several opponents all by himself.

In Yojimbo he pits two evil armies against each other for profit but earns nothing but a severe beating in the end when he instead saves a family caught in the middle. In Sanjuro he adopts a gang of young men trying to fight corruption in their town and teaches them that calm heads and a good plan are better than fighting.

If you have never seen a Kurosawa film, Yojimbo may be the best place to start.

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