About Yojimbo(1961) and Toshiro Mifune

If the propernouns mentioned in the title of this post sound totally alien to you, let me first explain them. Yojimbo is a 1961 Japanese movie by none other than Akira Kurosawa. Its said as a kind of prequel to Sanjuro, about which I blogged a few days back, here. I saw Yojimbo a couple of days back, and I say again – TOSHIRO MIFUNE ROCKS!

mifune.jpg             yojimbo-posters.jpg

Coming to the story, there is this town, in which two opposing groups are always fighting. The common folk have no option but to suffer. At this time, a masterless samurai arrives in to the town. He calls himself Kuwabatake Sanjuro (meaning “Mulberry Field thirty-year-old”) : ) The same name Sanjuro is carried on in to the sequel movie – “sanjuro”. He approaches the leaders of both the gangs saying he will work for them. Since both the teams realise his unmatchable abilities with sword, each of them want him on their side. By tricking both the teams from time to time, he creates disputes between them. At one point of time, he is captured by one of the gangs and beaten hardly. After that incident, he realises that its time to be serious, and shows his abilities as a samurai finally restoring peace in the town by making both the teams kill each other.
Toshiro Mifune is an amazing actor. Some of the scenes I liked very much include:

1 . In the first few scenes, when he approaches Seibei saying that he will come on their side if he is given the money he asked for, he is asked to wait outside and a discussion goes on inside. People inside will be talking about killing him once their job is done, so that they need no pay him. They are not aware that he is also listening. At that moment, he looks at the petrified people there, who are on the other side of the scene and notice that the samurai is listening to their master’s plans. He just flicks his tongue out in a mocking vein, meaning – “its all funny…they can’t kill me” sorta expression. He kept it so naturally… he looked like those small children who make fun of elders when they play games, despite his towering persona.

2. When he is recuperating after a kind of attack by Ushitora’s men, in a hut near the burial ground, he practices his knife throwing skills on a moving leaf. That scene is very very well picturised. According to Wiki article, “This effect was created by reversing the film: in reality, the leaf was pinned, the knife yanked away by a wire, and the leaf blown away.” – but, it never appeared so.

3. There is this fellow, the only one with a gun in that town. He feels like he is the greatest soul on earth, displaying that gun all the time. The fellow is funny.

4. The scenes where hero escapes from Ushitora’s men, in a half dead state.

5. As usual, the Japanese mannerisms and their expressions are very entertaining for someone with a totally different cultural background compared to them.

6. Above all, I liked every frame with Mifune’s presence.

I am in the Mifune worshipping mode now🙂 He was just brilliant everywhere in this movie. Not just in this, in all those movies of his, which I saw. While watching Rashomon, I felt he was good. Cometh Sanjuro, i shifted to – he is very good. During Seven Samurai, i thought he is superb. After this, HE IS SECOND TO NONE!

Mifune is an amazing actor. I wonder how one can show so many different kinds of emotions, with his kind of careless appearance and behavior – his trademark all along.

The great Kurosawa himself said :

“Mifune had a kind of talent I had never encountered before in the Japanese film world. It was, above all, the speed with which he expressed himself that was astounding. The ordinary Japanese actor might need ten feet of film to get across an impression; Mifune needed only three. The speed of his movements was such that he said in a single action what took ordinary actors three separate movements to express. He put forth everything directly and boldly, and his sense of timing was the keenest I had ever seen in a Japanese actor. And yet with all his quickness, he also had surprisingly fine sensibilities.”

Of late, it appears like Mr Giri on the telugu blogosphere is on a Akira Kurosawa movie spree. You can read more about some of the other Kurosawan movies, which I am personally not aware of, but very much eager to watch – HERE.

Published in: on August 31, 2007 at 3:56 pm  Comments (6)  

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6 CommentsLeave a comment

  1. It’s such a shame I haven’t watched a single movie by Kurosawa. No not even Seven Samuria. Heard so much about Kurosawa though.

  2. if at all there woul dbe any chance to name asingle person as ‘THE DIRECTOR’ unhesitantly i propose Kurosawa,the master fim director.If not tonnes,reams and reams were written about his craf.Intersetingly Kurosawa placed editing on higher pedestal than Direction,He was the realamalgamation of editor and director.Leave alone Seven Samurai,the epic which was remade in almost all languages without giving credit to Kurosawa,Yojimbo also made inroads in to various film industries.Bruce willies Last Man standing is also one.
    you have done a very good job by presenting a scholarly articile on Yojimbo.If times permits pleasedweelmore deeper on thi ssubject.

  3. Ah!!! Some one talking about Mifune…
    That made me feel so happy…

    I loved his each and every performance(the ones I watched).. especially the part man, part bear, part monkey, part insane child like ‘Kikichiro’….
    I just could take his death at the end of the movie…
    Ah!!!!!

    Couldnt believe its the same actor playing an insouciant ‘Sanjuro’ in the two movies..

    Do watch Hidden Fortress. I strongly recommend it for all people who love MIfune. If couldnt have imagined a knight as graceful and heroic.. Believe me!!!

    Havent got to watch Thone of Blood yet…

  4. I’ve never known an actor as adorable as Mifune. I’m sure, if heaven exists, he’s up there, drinking sake with Miyamoto Musashi and Kurosawa, the three then discussing art and cinema with Satyajit Ray and then jamming all night with Hendrix!

    Visit- http://souravroy.com/

  5. Toshiro Mifune was a great favorite of mine.

    The love of my life and I would see the Japanese
    movies and go to the Cherry Blossom Restaurant.
    Great memories.

    Do see Akiro Kurosawa’s “DREAMS” What filming, color
    characters and talent !

  6. Hehehe when I read it first, it was just like అరవ చీనీ. Now, after going through almost all of his movies, Mifune is now a days one of my fav actors along with incomparable Korean actor… Choi Min-sik


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