Yojimbo (1961)

Yojimbo (1961) movie poster

director Akira Kurosawa
viewed: 03/27/2014

I continue my march through “major films I’ve never seen” or films by major directors that I haven’t seen.  The thing is, that I have seen Akira Kurosawa’s Yojimbo before.  It was a long while back, but wouldn’t qualify it for this particular trek/trope.  But in planning to see Kurosawa’s 1962 film Sanjuro, I came to realize (which I did not know) that it was a sequel to Yojimbo.  Since it had been long enough that I hadn’t seen it, I thought it prudent to watch it prior to seeing the sequel.

I’d definitely say that Yojimbo is perhaps my second favorite Kurosawa samurai film, after Throne of Blood (1957).  Yojimbo is definitely one of Kurosawa’s best-known films.  It inspired not only its own sequel but was recreated by Sergio Leone in A Fistful of Dollars (1964), which of course had two sequels itself.  Yojimbo is considered to have been roughly adapted from Dashiell Hammett’s Red Harvest.

A lone ronin, the eternal Toshiro Mifune, randomly finds his way into a village that has become torn apart by two warring factions.  The ronin winds up playing both sides against one another, offering to work for whoever will pay him better, while really planning to bring them both down in a bloodbath.  He’s happy to see them make their own bloodbath and just watch from above.  Of course, in the end, he unleashes his sword on all the leftover villains.

The film is largely quite comical, perhaps one of Kurosawa’s most humorous movies.  It’s a sort of simple scenario, yet quite poetical in its way.  Totally brilliant film.

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