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"yojimbo" (2001) - akira kurosawa
posted on 21-Jul-2002 by anton
although I have liked all I have seen from kurosawa (which was not much, unfortunately), I am not by any means a kurosawa buff, this might explain my inability to put this film in context with his other work, perhaps it is all for the better, allowing me to be more objective.

yojimbo looks and feels like a spaghetti western, a genre that I never really was a big fan of, for various reasons (born too old to enjoy the initial popularity of the genre, and too turned off by the whole "wild west" mentality ever since I got to the states). but wait a second, a spaghetti western set and shot in japan, with a lone samurai as its main hero? this is where it takes a bizarre cultural leap (for me, at least), especially once you realize that fistful of dollars by sergio leone and probably many other "real" westerns were shot only years later.

released in 1961, it is violent and bloody, but also darkly comic and purely entertaining. the story of the lonesome outlaw, the one that seems to be doing everything for money, not caring a bit about people, shows a nice human side, and a generous gesture here and there (it is always interesting to see a passing smile or a smirk on his face, he likes to watch, and it amuses him). the film is delightfully amoral, with countless plot turns and endlessly scurrying characters (some of them almost absurdly caricature). some of the battle scenes are excellent, the two lines of enemies slowly approaching each other on a small street, a perfect western setting, but transplanted to the samurai world. I kept having flashbacks to bad westerns, while watching it, and this in itself was a peculiar cultural rollercoaster. too bad my mind is polluted with them, and I cannot fully appreciate yojimbo in the intended form, but at the same time I cannot deny the appeal of this perspective.

yojimbo is comical, entertaining, packed with action film that not only amuses you, but placed in the context of its time proves to be an interesting landmark.


 
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