Akira Kurosawa’s Yojimbo exemplifies a Japanese take on an American Western film.
The film relies heavily on natural lighting and fog machines to create the look of a dusty “Western” Japanese village. Nearly everything shown on-screen takes place in the village, however the setting is not very important; the same action could have occurred in any Japanese village. Typical of the Western genre, the village is constructed almost entirely out of wood, and the roads are made of dirt.
The use of costumes in Yojimbo distinguished the rich from the poor—the powerful from the powerless. The traveling samurai stood out from everyone else because of his costume—a solid navy or black robe with a white floral pattern. The women all wore kimonos and the men all wore either robes or some sort of working man’s getup. Everyone had long hair, and everyone tied his/her hair in a bun of some sort. Seibê (the brother operator)’s wife held great power in the film which reflected in her very intricate and expensive-looking kimono.
The film made great use of long shots. Nearly every shot in the film was a long shot; there were very few, if any, short shots, and montage was very sparingly used. I think the use of long shots in the film made the action in the film feel very slow and drawn-out rather than fast-paced. Much of the film’s plot consisted of the samurai waiting in the old man’s house while eating or the samurai waiting in some other location engaging in dialogue or eavesdropping on others’ dialogue. Long shots helped fill time, I suppose, but they made for a boring viewing experience (at least in my opinion).
The makeup on the men seemed very minimal or non-existent except for the obvious bloody and bruised make-up looks. The women wore very minimal makeup as well.