用心棒 (Yojimbo): Culture-independent machismo

What fascinates me about this film is how very quasi-Western it is. It’s no wonder Kurosawa’s films kept getting turned into Clint Eastwood westerns; They’ve got that positive vibe already, what with the lawlessness (of a tumultous period of history, rather than a new land), the definitions of honor, and the archetype of the proud, defiant, and righteous fighter. I haven’t seen A Fistful of Dollars, so I have no real basis for comparison, but there are at least a few scenes which I could see transplanted pretty much identically with a change in costumes only. Speaking of costumes, one thing which struck me in this (and did not strike me in previous Kurosawa films, so I don’t know if I’m unobservant or whether this was a peculiarity of the acting here) is ho often, on the verge of action, people’s arms seem to be tucked into their kimonos. Wouldn’t that make sudden movements sort of awkward? Of course, that’s not nearly as weird to my eye as how the gunfighter holds his weapon with his hands coming out of the neckhole/slit. That too seems rather awkward, because it really doesn’t look like he has much range of motion. Is that actually an effective way to hold a pistol?

See also: IMDB, Wikipedia

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About Jake
I'm a mathematics professor at the University of Louisville, and a geek.

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