Yojimbo (film)

Yojimbo (film)

Infobox Film
name = Yojimbo

caption = Poster for "Yojimbo"
writer = Ryuzo Kikushima
Akira Kurosawa
starring = Toshirō Mifune
Tatsuya Nakadai
Yôko Tsukasa
Isuzu Yamada
director = Akira Kurosawa
producer = Ryuzo Kikushima
Akira Kurosawa
Tomoyuki Tanaka
music = Masaru Satō
cinematography = Kazuo Miyagawa
Takao Saito
distributor = Toho Company Ltd.
released = April 25, 1961
runtime = 110 minutes
country = Japan
language = Japanese
amg_id = 1:55840
imdb_id = 0055630
budget =
followed_by = "Sanjuro"

nihongo|"Yojimbo"|用心棒|"Yōjinbō" is a 1961 "jidaigeki" (period drama) film directed by Akira Kurosawa. It tells the story of a "ronin" (masterless samurai), portrayed by Toshirō Mifune, who arrives in a small town where competing crime lords make their money from gambling. The ronin convinces each crime lord to hire him as protection from the other. By careful political maneuvering and the use of his sword, he brings peace, but only by encouraging both sides to wipe each other out in bloody battles. The title of the film translates as 'bodyguard'. The ronin calls himself "Kuwabatake Sanjuro" (meaning "Mulberry Field thirty-year-old"), which he seems to make up while looking at a mulberry field by the town. Thus, "Sanjuro" can be viewed as the original "Man with No Name" concept, made famous in the Clint Eastwood-Sergio Leone collaborations, commonly known as the "Dollars Trilogy".


The film's look and themes were in part inspired by the western film, in particular the films of John Ford. The characters - the taciturn loner and the helpless townsfolk needing a protector - are reminiscent of Kurosawa's own "The Seven Samurai" (1954) and have become western archetypes, and the cinematography mimics conventional shots in western films such as that of the lone hero in a wide shot, facing an enemy or enemies from a distance while the wind kicks up dust between the two.

Kurosawa stated that a major source for the plot was the "film noir" classic "The Glass Key" (1942), an adaptation of Dashiell Hammett's 1931 novel. In particular, the scene where the hero is captured by the villains and tortured before he escapes is copied almost shot for shot from "The Glass Key".Fact|date=May 2008 However, it has been noted that the overall plot of "Yojimbo" is actually much closer to that of another Hammett novel, "Red Harvest" (1929). Kurosawa scholar David Desser and film critic Manny Farber, among others, state categorically that "Red Harvest" was the inspiration for the film; however, other scholars, such as Donald Richie, believe the similarities are coincidental. [Allen Barra, [http://dir.salon.com/story/books/feature/2005/02/28/hammett/index.html?pn=1 'From Red Harvest to Deadwood'] , "Salon" (2005)]


* Toshirō Mifune ... Kuwabatake Sanjuro
* Tatsuya Nakadai ... Unosuke
* Yōko Tsukasa ... Nui
* Isuzu Yamada ... Orin
* Daisuke Katō ... Inokichi, Ushitora's younger brother
* Takashi Shimura ... Tokuemon, sake brewer
* Hiroshi Tachikawa ... Yoichiro
* Yosuke Natsuki ... Kohei's Son
* Eijirō Tōno ... Gonji, tavern keeper
* Kamatari Fujiwara... Tazaemon, Silk merchant and Mayor of town
* Ikio Sawamura ... Hansuke, Officer of the town
* Susumu Fujita ... Homma, instructor who skips town
* Kyu Sazanka ... Ushitora, Crime lord number 1


Many of the actors in "Yojimbo" had worked with Kurosawa before and after, especially Toshirō Mifune, Takashi Shimura and Tatsuya Nakadai.At one point the hero, beaten, disarmed and left for dead, recovers in a small hut where he practices with his throwing knife by pinning a fluttering leaf. 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.


Both in Japan and the West, "Yojimbo" had a considerable influence on various forms of entertainment.

Kurosawa directed a companion piece to "Yojimbo" in 1962, entitled "Sanjuro", in which Mifune returns as the ronin, who keeps his "given name" Sanjuro (meaning "Thirtysomething") but he takes a different "surname" (in both films, he takes his surname from the plants he happens to be looking at when asked his name).

In 1964, "Yojimbo" was remade as "A Fistful of Dollars", a spaghetti western directed by Sergio Leone and starring Clint Eastwood in his first appearance as the Man with No Name. Leone and his production company failed to secure the remake rights to Kurosawa's film, resulting in a lawsuit that delayed "Fistful"'s release in North America for three years. In "Yojimbo", the protagonist defeats a man with a gun, when he carries only a knife and a sword; in the equivalent scene in "Fistful", Eastwood's pistol-wielding character survives being shot by a rifle by hiding an iron plate under his clothes to serve as a shield against bullets.

The 1970 film "Zatoichi Meets Yojimbo" also features Mifune as a similar character. It is the twentieth of a series of movies featuring the blind swordsman Zatoichi. Although Mifune is clearly not playing the same man (his name is Sasso, and his personality and background are different in many key respects), the movie's title and some of its content do intend to suggest the image of the two iconic "Jidaigeki" characters confronting each other. "Incident at Blood Pass", made in the same year, stars Mifune in a role similar to that of "Yojimbo".

Stan Sakai's comic book series "Usagi Yojimbo" derives its title from the film and frequently references the work of Akira Kurosawa.

"Last Man Standing" (1996), a Prohibition era gangster thriller, directed by Walter Hill and starring Bruce Willis, is an officially authorized remake of "Yojimbo."

The "anime" series "Kaze no Yojimbo" (2001; literally "Bodyguard of the Wind"), produced by Kurosawa Productions retells the story of the original film in the modern era. Many of the characters and events in the series are analogous to characters and events in "Yojimbo", but additional subplots and characters are added to expand it into a 25-episode TV series and to distinguish it from Kurosawa's film. The anime film "Sword of the Stranger" (2007) features a swordsman with no name as its protagonist.

The PlayStation 2 game "Way of the Samurai" has many elements heavily inspired by Yojimbo. Another PlayStation 2 game, "", features characters with very similar costumes, features, and behavior.


External links

* [http://www.criterion.com/asp/release.asp?id=52&eid=68&section=essay Criterion Collection essay by Alexander Sesonske]
* [http://www.bbc.co.uk/dna/h2g2/A1161271 A Comparison of "Yojimbo", "A Fistful of Dollars" and "Last Man Standing"]
* " [http://www.jmdb.ne.jp/1961/ck002050.htm Yojimbo] " ja icon at the Japanese Movie Database
* " [http://www.rottentomatoes.com/m/yojimbo/ Yojimbo] " at the Rotten Tomatoes

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