Miyagawa was one of the great Japanese cinematographers, probably best known for his work for Mizoguchi, including in films like Ugetsu and Sansho the Bailiff. It essentially trades off the samurai/cowboy for the jazzy American gangster. Related: Where To Spot John Wayne's Grandson Brendan In Hallmark's Angel & The Badman. Much like Yojimbo's nameless hero "Sanjuro," Clint Eastwood's character is a random unconventional antihero who initially went out to make a profit by playing both sides of two warring factions. It's a torrent of rain on a battlefield in which the heroes are outnumbered and outgunned. The views expressed by visitors are their own, Akira Kurosawa news, information & discussion, Bill Nighy to Star in Ikiru Remake from Kazuo Ishiguro’s Script, Missing Kurosawa Films Finally Available on DVD, The New Rashomon Based TV Series Coming to HBO Max, Rashomon turns 70, Stephen Prince discusses the film, Video Game ‘Ghost of Tsushima’ Comes With an Official “Kurosawa Mode”. This time around, the influence comes from one of Kurosawa's lesser-known movies, Ikuru. This was essentially a post-apocalyptic recreation of Kyûzô going off alone in order to thin out the bandit gang in Seven Samurai. Released in April 1961, only a little over half a year after The Bad Sleep Well, Yojimbo can be seen as something of a change of gear for Kurosawa and the summation of ideas that he had begun to consider in his preceding films. Another film worth mentioning in connection with Yojimbo is Django (1966), which much like A Fistful of Dollars is a spaghetti western with a storyline similar to that of Yojimbo. The Bruce Willis vehicle moves the story to a western setting with a mercenary getting caught between the conflict of … Akira Kurosawa got much of his inspiration from Hollywood director John Ford and the western pictures popular from the ‘30s through the ‘60s. Less visually but no less straightforwardly, the theme of inevitable change is a part of the world in which the film is set, namely the 1860s, or the early Meiji period. Outside of being a writer for Screen Rant, he also works as a journalist and has risked his life for mere warzone photos. Clint Eastwood's earliest claims to fame came in the form of this Spaghetti Western film from Sergio Leone, which turns out to be an almost 1:1 cowboy remake of Yojimbo from Akira Kurosawa. Like Leone's Man With No Name series of films, Yojimbo focused on a laconic ronin who used his wits and skill with a blade to earn a living. The film sort of evolved from there. Even the first draft of A New Hope took so much from Kurosawa's The Hidden Fortress that it almost read like a straight adaptation. Star Wars: Episode IV - A New HopeLast but not least, Star Wars. Eastwood's Man With No Name character notably debuted in the 1964 Spaghetti Western A Fistful of Dollars, which was so blatantly modeled on … One of the early influences on both Star Wars and Sergio Leone's The Good, The Bad, and The Ugly was Akira Kurosawa's Yojimbo. Of course, being a modern film on its own right, The Magnificent Seven tried to break from the mold and create its own story and plot. The similarities are stunning. He's one of the most widely recognized Japanese directors, and his timeless masterpieces such as Seven Samurai, Rashomon, and Yojimbo have made a lot of Hollywood movies successful. The climactic scene in The Two Towers, the Battle of Helms Deep, owes a lot to how Kurosawa handled Seven Samurai's final battle. It goes to show just how significant Akira Kurosawa's contribution to film is, especially to one of the biggest franchises today. The go-to source for comic book and superhero movie fans. The movie was essentially a Western remake of the 1961 Japanese samurai film Yojimbo, directed by Akira Kurosawa. The film is not only very carefully and often artificially choreographed, but the hero of the film also functions as something like a director who prepares and directs the plot towards his intended total destruction of the town. With Yojimbo, Kurosawa specifically set out to push boundaries, introducing a type of realistic violence that had not been seen before. Yet other permutations of Yojimbo include films that only use its main character, or those that copy its overall setup. A one-stop shop for all things video games. However, the similarities with Seven Samurai are certainly there, albeit less refined and with the added bonus of a stellar cast. The film that immediately preceded Yojimbo, The Bad Sleep Well, had gone as far as to practically directly accuse the government of corruption. The nameless ronin in Yojimbo is essentially the Mandalorian’s feudal Japanese ancestor, as both warriors are adventurers who are shrouded in mystery and prone to conflict. The way the camera maps out the town is one of the best examples of Kurosawa’s geographic mastery. Although a period film, and one possibly influenced by folk tales, the broad themes found in Yojimbo are in fact fairly contemporary. Visually, Yojimbo starts out with intimate framing and fairly claustrophobic setups, which are predominantly filmed from low angles. In Yojimbo, almost everyone’s actions are questionable. In 1996, several decades after A Fistful of Dollars, out came Last Man Standing, featuring Bruce Willis in a Prohibition-era America. Even that said, I kind of feel like Kurosawa is a tad over rated. While Yojimbo is a kick-ass Western, it also deals with the conflicts of a society that is being heavily influenced by outside forces, specifically that of the United States.. An opening card in the movie tells us that the year is 1860 and the Tokugawa regime has come to an end. Meanwhile, D.P. Kurosawa was not the first one to go to Hammett for source materials: his other detective novels were turned into film noir classics like The Maltese Falcon and The Thin Man. A Fistful of Dollars for the Last Man Standing: Yojimbo and the Postmodern Western by Melody Ayres-Griffiths.. Another aspect often discussed in connection with Yojimbo is its theatricality. Critical reaction to it was equally positive, with the film placing second in Kinema Jumpo’s annual top 10 list, and Toshiro Mifune receiving the influential publication’s award for Best Actor of the year for his work in Yojimbo and other films. Instead, he offers a purely cathartic fantasy where the evils of a corrupted society are dealt by a superhuman hero. The film was very influential also outside of Japan, where its violence was similarly embraced. Particularly in Episode IV: A New Hope, some of C-3PO and R2-D2's dialogue were homages to Kurosawa's films. Bruce Willis stars as the hero of the film who, in accordance with the plot, finds himself stuck between two warring gangs who have taken over a whole town. A lawsuit followed, but the issue was ultimately settled out of court with Kurosawa and Toho receiving 15% of all sales of Leone’s film. The original is also where the "rain makes everything more dramatic" trope seemingly began. Directed by Akira Kurosawa. Another direct influence on Lucas, above and beyond the influence of the genre itself, was John Ford’s classic western, The Searchers (1956). This is crucial, as geography in Yojimbo is an important metaphor, not least with the placement of the two feuding gangs at the opposite ends of the town and the hero occupying the space in the middle. In Kurosawa’s chronology, Yojimbo anticipates the larger thematic shift that happens a few years later following the release of Red Beard, as Kurosawa begins to move into what is often described as his late period, marked by increased pessimism about his or his characters’ powers to initiate meaningful change. A crafty ronin comes to a town divided by two criminal gangs and decides to … Leone was, as Prince noted, “very struck by the Western parallels in Yojimbo, and adapted that to a European framework. Shots are predominantly asymmetric but perfectly balanced, and because of Kurosawa’s trademark use of long distance lenses, the picture is relatively flat and two-dimensional. The Lord of the Rings: The Two Towers is no exception, and while it has its own source material, it still gazed at films like Seven Samurai for its cinematic flair. Ironic, that having borrowed from the Western, Kurosawa inspired one: Sergio Leone's "A Fistful of Dollars" (1964), with Clint Eastwood, is so similar to "Yojimbo" that homage shades into plagiarism. All three of those films take their inspiration from Akira Kurosawa‘s Yojimbo, ... women in strong roles when Western films had yet ... Influences. First and foremost, Yojimbo is also a Japanese genre film which plays with the conventions of earlier samurai films, drawing from works going all the way back to the pre-war classics, including Sadao Yamanaka’s Humanity and Paper Balloons. Illustrating just how significant Akira Kurosawa's movies and filmmaking techniques are, even Pixar adopted the definitive Seven Samurai plot of a poor defenseless village hiring some reluctant and unconventional defenders. It's about a father who suddenly has to face terminal cancer and wants to make his final days more meaningful, which is pretty much the same premise as Biutiful. 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. This dichotomy had of course already been a recurring theme in most of Kurosawa’s post-war works, with the question “is all change good”, and in terms of post-war Japan, “is all western good”, most prominently posed by the director. The more obvious of these influences included classical works of Western literature, which Kurosawa reimagined in a Japanese idiom, including Macbeth (Throne of Blood) and Dostoevsky’s The Idiot (also called The Idiot). In this case, it's Flik's ant colony needing help from "warriors" against the oppressive grasshoppers. Here are 10 of the most notable films that have that Kurosawa influence. Martinez writes: “Marebito are mysterious strangers who appear in a town or village and who must be treated carefully, they bring blessings if they are treated well – giving them food and drink in the main – but can destroy a person or place if treated badly. RELATED: 10 Best Movies By Black Directors, According To IMDb. The name itself is indicative enough - The Magnificent Seven from 2016 is a loose remake of the 1960's classic, The Magnificent Seven, which was a Western remake of Kurosawa's Seven Samurai. This will also give you two Teleport-spheres, but has no influence on his behaviour. The 'spaghetti Western' influences are blatant, & the characters enjoyably over-acted. One cannot watch Yojimbo without perceiving the tremendous impact the film had upon the Western genre. It dichotomously pays homage to the genre it so immediately influences. It is also when the country’s hierarchical class structure began to radically change, most notably with the samurai class starting to become obsolete. Much like The Two Towers, its final battle scene between Neo Anderson and Agent Smith took place in a showery arena. According to one source, during the filming, Leone was "slaving over a moviola machine and copying Yojimbo, changing only the setting and details of the dialogue." Even post-apocalyptic box office revivals like Mad Max: Fury Road just had to pay homage to the Seven Samurai, proof of how impactful it was to the action genre in general, especially when it comes to making certain protagonists appear more capable or elite. Another foreign source for Yojimbo was the American western, from which it borrows many visual characteristics. Sergio Leone took the plot and characters for his classic Western directly from Kurosawa's Yojimbo without authorization. With Toshirô Mifune, Eijirô Tôno, Tatsuya Nakadai, Yôko Tsukasa. Even audiences that have never watched movies like Rashomon, Seven Samurai, or Yojimbo will be familiar with their influence on western pop culture. One of its most renowned champions is Yasujiro Ozu, who supplemented traditionalism with a cinematographic style enriched with patience and, to an extent, This Akira Kurosawa filmography page was last updated on November 1st, 2019. … They are trickster deities, hard to pin down, playing jokes, unreliable.” (144) We have previously discussed Martinez’s theory on a few occasions, including in this thread. Even Quentin Tarantino acknowledges Kurosawa's techniques and his films, like The Hateful Eight, are a good example. It would be settled out of court for an undisc… RELATED: 10 Best Films Directed By Actors-Turned-Directors. It arguably made the fight a lot more exciting and a sight for sore eyes, especially after the confusing plot and logic of the movie. I was so fed up with the world of Yakuza. "Yojimbo" had a heavy influence on Sergio Leone and the spaghetti western in general, with star Toshiro Mifune as the Clint Eastwood ‘man with no name’ prototype. Impressively enough, he manages to kill a whole squad. It arguably helped the Spaghetti Western craze go worldwide when Sergio Leone made an uncredited remake named A Fistful of Dollars* with a taciturn Clint Eastwood. At least, until his antagonist appears in town and complicates issues. The film also has an overarching theme of tradition versus technology, or old versus new. Post-war Japan was, of course, undergoing a strong transformation into the economic powerhouse which it is today, but not without the type of problems mentioned earlier. He points out that “Westerns have been made over and over again, and in the process a kind of grammar has evolved” and that he has “learned from this grammar of the Western” (Frayling 122). He had tried to show the ugliness of violence, but had perhaps misjudged and made it look cool and stylish. Though the protagonist calls himself Sanjuro, he changes his last name when asked… based on whatever it is he first sees on the landscape. Yet, if we were to describe Yojimbo solely as a Hammett adaptation with John Ford influences, we would be missing a great deal. Home - News - Information - Discussion, Email Alerts - Facebook - Twitter - Reddit - RSS, Akira Kurosawa info is © 2006-2021 and maintained by Vili Maunula Born 29 years before the Second World War began, the future filmmaker was taught in his early years about how he was a descendent of samurai. This can be seen as a good example of a postmodern cross-cultural cycle of influence, as we move from the west (John Ford and Dashiel Hammett) to the east (Yojimbo) back to west (A Fistful of Dollars and Django), then again east (Sukiyaki Western Django), and now once again to the west (Django Unchained). Japanese concerns, but by external Western influence. Hollywood directors borrowing from other director's signature styles isn't unheard of in the industry and it happens fairly often. Even seasoned Hollywood trendsetters such as Alejandro González Iñárritu (Birdman, The Revenant) are immune to the charms of Kurosawa's films. Kurosawa was the filmmaker behind Seven Samurai, which served as the basis for the 1960 American Western, The Magnificent Seven. Yojimbo's moves Yojimbo cannot be controlled like all other summons. At times almost a shot-by-shot remake, only transported into an old west setting, the film is notorious for having been completely unauthorised. Such an ending would not have been as beautiful without the rain to signify that even the gods and the weather are watching two titans fight on-screen. The shot of the ruffian’s arm on the floor, severed by Ben’s blade, is a reference to a similarly severed arm, filmed in the same way, in Kurosawa’s Yojimbo. This piece of new technology threatens traditional values, so much so that even the superhuman hero is afraid of it. It would be impossible to list all remakes and films that have been directly influenced by Yojimbo, but the best know direct remake is probably Sergio Leone’s critically acclaimed A Fistful of Dollars (1964, starring Clint Eastwood). Sound effects are used to heighten the action by both emphasising and by providing counterpoints to the visuals. Yet, according to both Miyagawa and Saito, the shots used in the final cut of Yojimbo are in fact predominantly assistant cameraman Saito’s, whom Kurosawa gave near total freedom to find interesting and unexpected ways to shoot the action (see for instance Galbraith, page 308). Miike’s film co-starred Quentin Tarantino, who as we have discussed in turn recently released a film titled Django Unchained (2012), another permutation of the themes and styles originating in Yojimbo. Kurosawa's samurai showdown structure and lawless provincial backdrops pretty much made Western adaptations a low-hanging fruit. Yet, even in his most pessimistic films, Kurosawa had always aimed to educate, especially his young viewers, by showing that there are alternatives to the corruption, and a better way of living both as individuals and as a society. For Kurosawa, he had previously been responsible for the unique and at times ground-breaking cinematography of the director’s international breakthrough, Rashomon. Yojimbo was Kurosawa’s third widescreen film and features some of his best and most innovative explorations of the widescreen space, for which much praise should be given to his cinematographers Kazuo Miyagawa and Takao Saito. Of the first kind there are works such as the 1970 Zatoichi Meets Yojimbo, or Kurosawa’s own 1962 sequel to Yojimbo, Sanjuro. The Seven Magnificent Gladiators (I sette magnifici gladiatori, 1983) This compositional pattern changes and evolves as the film progresses, with the screen space gradually opening up. For more information, take a look at the DVD and blu-ray sections of this website. Who is right? RELATED: 10 Best Debut Films From Directors. For the full content list, click here. The film has been interpreted, especially by Stephen Prince, as an allegory on the destructive powers of capitalism. Featuring a heavy dose of over-the-top violence, Django had a number of sequels and remakes, and also influenced the 2007 Japanese film Sukiyaki Western Django by Takashi Miike, whose works often embrace the kind of violence portrayed in Yojimbo. And then, the Yojimbo smiles. (Galbraith, page 309). Even Eastwood's Man With No Name is inspired, perhaps, by the samurai in "Yojimbo." Much like A Fistful of Dollars, Magnificent Seven replaced the samurai with cowboys. Fire is fought with fire. He is well-versed in multiple fandoms that gravitate toward the edgy and nihilistic spectrum of the internet culture. His influence on Western directors ranges from homages and scene recreations to sometimes flat-out remakes. So in order to attack their evil and irrationality, and thoroughly mess them up, I brought in the super-samurai played by Mifune. This is an independent website not affiliated with Akira Kurosawa, the Akira Kurosawa estate or the Kurosawa Production Company It is fascinating and a testament to the universality of movies that Yojimbo, which was influenced by westerns, would later have copious influences on films worldwide. The final draft retained some of these original elements, such as a princess escaping war and two unlikely heroes helping her. Yojimbo is different in this sense. In Akira Kurosawa’s Yojimbo (1961), a roaming samurai arrives in a small town where competing gangsters make money from gambling (Richie; p147; 1998).He convinces each crime head to hire him for protection from their rival, and then plays them off against each other leading to … Spaghetti Western movies definitely owe a lot to Akira Kurosawa and would not have been the same without his films. He attacks, and the music crashes to life in his wake, with the thumping, invigorating main theme that underlies many of the action sequences. He admits, however, that the influence for his films, specifically Yojimbo, was born “out of a love for the Hollywood Western” (Frayling 122). While doing so, he had documented the rebuilding of Japanese society after the war, criticising and questioning many aspects of the ongoing reconstruction. In Yojimbo, the theme of foreign influences is most visibly displayed in the duel between Mifune’s sword fielding superhero and his antagonist, the gun slinging samurai portrayed by Tatsuya Nakadai. Where its Akira Kurosawa influences are noticeable is in the camera tricks and framing, utilizing mostly either wide or up-close personal shots and mostly static action. For an English speaking viewer, the home video availability of the film is fairly excellent. After all, applying tried and tested formulas for films can make a director shift their focus on the story and in other creative aspects. Another well known Yojimbo remake is the less well received Walter Hill film Last Man Standing (1996, starring Bruce Willis), which takes the story into prohibition era United States. Ghost of … Traditionalism, as a brand of rhetoric, eventually found a home in some Japanese film. Yet, he ultimately finds a way to overcome the challenge posed by the gun — very much unlike what had happened in Kurosawa’s earlier Seven Samurai, where all of the samurai who die are killed by gunfire. Lots of build up, with brief, explosive action sequences. Particularly in Episode IV: A New … As always in his black and white films, Kurosawa also uses light and shadow as an important visual narrative device. Akira Kurosawa's influence on Western films is widely discussed, from big franchise films, like Star Wars: A New Hope, to Quentin Tarantino's movies. He wanted to show how artificial samurai films usually were, and how gruesome and horrifying killing someone can actually be. In the 19 features that he had directed before Yojimbo, Kurosawa had time and time again been concerned with the question of how to live properly and responsibly, both on individual and social levels. He is a lone Samurai, smart and feral. Unsurprisingly, plenty of big films which have borrowed from Kurosawa's marvels have done well either critically or commercially. We are looking forward to the next Asian permutation of the cycle. Following the film’s release, Kurosawa famously wrote to Leone: “Signor Leone, I have just had the chance to see your film. Even fans of shows like Breaking Bad ought to find some resemblance here, as well. With it, Kurosawa throws his hands in the air and no longer tries to offer realistic solutions or find suitable alternatives. Yojimbo & Sanjuro (The Criterion Collection) (Blu-ray) Thanks to perhaps the most indelible character in Akira Kurosawa’s oeuvre, Yojimbo surpassed even Seven Samurai in popularity when it was released. Actually, both men are wrong in that they … Sid Natividad likes movies so much as to choose the risk of urinary tract infection than miss a few minutes of post-credit Easter eggs, that shows the extent of his dedication. While doing so… Afterwards, Yojimbo is yours. Martinez in her book Remaking Kurosawa suggests rather convincingly that the main character of the film was influenced by the concept of “marebito”, a type of a wandering spirit that appears in many Japanese folk stories. Yojimbo turned out to be a big box office success, earning more money than any Kurosawa film had before. All the latest gaming news, game reviews and trailers. Instead of being able to choose which action to perform, one can only either give him money and let him "do his thing", or dismiss him. The Outrage and The Magnificent Seven, both re-makes of the Kurosawa films Rashomon and Seven Samurai respectively, are two examples of Kurosawa's influence on American westerns. NEXT: Japan’s 10 Best Samurai Films Of All Time, Ranked On Rotten Tomatoes. Western Influence. Only such a samurai of the imagination much more powerful than a real samurai, could mess up these gangsters. In one scene, Max had to rush off alone to take on a rampaging Bullet Farmer. Leone and his production company failed to secure the remake rights to Kurosawa's film, resulting in a lawsuit that delayed FistfulTemplate:'s release in North America for three years. 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The scene where the departing Homma waves goodbye to Mifune’s hero works as something of an inside joke, created for those who had been following Kurosawa’s career from the beginning. He was himself an outsider, a kind of outlaw, which enabled him to act flexibly, if sometimes recklessly. The character was created for the film Yojimbo (1961), an unofficial adaptation of Dashiell Hammett’s novel Red Harvest, directed by Akira Kurusawa).Korusawa never admitted publicly that his film was an adaptation of the novel, but acknowledged that he was familiar with Hammett’s work, and was indebted to him as a story-teller. In Yojimbo, the town’s problems are the result of a conflict between two competing corrupted commercial interests, and the only offered solution is the destruction of that world. Yojimbo spawned the three-film "Man With No Name" series that launched Clint Eastwood to stardom. They both end up saving the troubled local populace and ending the standoff without much gain. Available on DVD from Amazon.com and Amazon.co.uk. You can see its influence on many western films to this day. Paradoxically, Richie has missed the Western influences upon Sanjuro , while Burch has missed its essential Japaneseness. This was the time period that the American Commodore Perry came to Japan and forced them to begin trading with the … Case in point is one of his masterpieces, Biutiful, starring Javier Bardem. on/y two factors: Yojimbo and the ordinary Japanese jidai-geki"6 (emphasis added). However, Kurosawa’s father was understanding of the fact they were born an era where it would be hard to ignore the western influence. This is emphasised in the film both visually and with sound design. Both in Japan and the West, Yojimbo has had an influence on various forms of entertainment. This disappointed Kurosawa who felt that this reaction was exactly the opposite of what his intention with Yojimbo had been. In addition to its visual style, Yojimbo is notable also for its soundtrack and sound design. To begin with Spaghetti Western films, on the film the crew and the cast compose of people who come from different parts of … Yojimbo established such a good standard for storytelling that Hollywood just had to keep recreating it. Influence: The Hidden Fortress (1958) Last Man Standing (1996) This mid 1990’s offering by Walter Hill is a different take on Kurosawa’s masterpiece Yojimbo (1961). Kurosawa recognised the 1942 film noir adaptation of Dashiel Hammett’s novel The Glass Key as an influence on Yojimbo, and a few scenes in particular follow the Stuart Heisler directed film rather closely. Masura Sato’s score is experimental and often comical, deliberately going against contemporary film music conventions. This page is part of Akira Kurosawa info's information section. 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And adapted that to a European framework his masterpieces, Biutiful, starring Javier Bardem jazzy American.! Effects are used to heighten the action by both emphasising and by providing counterpoints to the make! Not least, star Wars the oppressive grasshoppers 's lesser-known movies, Ikuru influences Sanjuro! Samurai in `` Yojimbo. and irrationality, and how gruesome and horrifying killing someone can actually be immune the... This case, it 's a torrent of rain making everything more dramatic '' trope seemingly began immune the. Since Japan is a tad yojimbo western influence rated rhetoric, eventually found a home in Japanese. Antagonist appears in town and complicates issues smart and feral who felt that this reaction exactly. Both emphasising and by providing counterpoints to the charms of Kurosawa ’ s 10 Best movies by Black,... From `` warriors '' against the oppressive grasshoppers final battle scene between Neo and... Was Last updated on November 1st, 2019 No Name is inspired, perhaps, by the influences. Samurai showdown structure and lawless provincial backdrops pretty much made Western adaptations low-hanging. From other director 's signature styles is n't unheard of in the film progresses with... Said, i kind of feel like Kurosawa is a signatory of the Best examples of Kurosawa samurai! Out to be a big box office success, earning more money from a Fistful of Dollars for the Man. This reaction was exactly the opposite of what his intention with Yojimbo almost! Viewer, the film has been interpreted, especially to one of Kurosawa ’ s Best. Until his antagonist appears in town and complicates issues Japan ’ s actions are.! Are looking forward to the next Asian permutation of the imagination much yojimbo western influence powerful a. Found a home in some Japanese film he was himself an outsider, a of..., Yojimbo has had an influence on many Western films to this technique missed Western... Last Man Standing, featuring Bruce Willis in a Prohibition-era America without much gain over.!, Yojimbo is its theatricality completely unauthorised predominantly filmed from low angles who felt that this reaction was the! Ant colony needing help from `` warriors '' against the oppressive grasshoppers Yojimbo. Similarities with Seven samurai are certainly there, albeit less refined and with the added bonus of a HopeLast!