The unnamed Samurai sips his sake and observes two rival gangs exchange hostilities. When the innkeeper warns him to leave, he responds, “I get paid for killing. And a lot of people here deserve to die.”
Let’s be honest, most modern cinema appeals to a female audience. Gone are the days of the Duke and Dirty Harry. Usher in a world of The Notebook, Titanic and Hitch. Yojimbo is a classic because of its beautiful cinematography and influence on western cinema. More importantly, it’s an unadulterated action movie free from heartthrobs or romance.
Yojimbo opens with an unnamed Samurai, played by Toshiro Mifune, walking into a quiet town. The first thing he sees is a dog trotting along with a human hand between its jaws. He quickly learns that two ruling gangs, led by a sake brewer and a brothel owner, control the town.
The plot follows the man with no name and his attempt to pit the two gangs against one another. His character is reminiscent of Odysseus, whose resourcefulness is his greatest weapon. Through cunning alone, the man with no name is able to expunge both gangs from the town. The Samurai leaves the town, dust eddying about his feet, leaving the town’s population in single digits.
Dialog made the movie for me. The script was very simple but clever. After dispatching three thugs, the Samurai tells the coffin maker, “Two coffins” turns back to the carnage and finishes, “No, maybe three.” Movie dialog hasn’t brought me so close to tears since the final speech by Robert the Bruce in Braveheart.
Yojimbo’s plot doesn’t have or need depth. It is an austere tale about the not-so-good versus evil. Kurosawa’s eye for art direction and lighting is apparent in every scene that could pass for a painting. Everything about the movie including characters, plot and scenery, conveys a sense of the epic.
The director, Kurosawa, is in my opinion, the greatest director featured in this film series. His diverse films range from the action packed Yojimbo to the psychological Rashomon and the dramatic Ikiru. Kurosawa’s High and Low will be shown later this semester.
Toshiro Mifune pioneered the uncouth, unshaven anti-hero that Clint Eastwood is known for in America. Rather than type acting, Mifune is able to interpret and adapt to different roles, similar to Johnny Depp.
The film series continues to be a bastion of culture and entertainment at Sam Houston. It is a vital part of our university and those who attend are better educated when they leave.
The film festival is continuing every Tuesday at 3:30 and 7 p.m. in the Evans Complex room 105. Support the film series during Homecoming week by coming to Belle de jour tonight. This French film, directed by Luis Bunuel, is about a “desperate housewife” who starts prostituting for the excitement.