This week we watched Akira Kurosawa’s Yojimbo and Sergio Leone’s A Fistful of Dollars, because the two movies have one same theme, and many similar aspects that are presented to the audience in very different ways. The major theme between the two would probably be the violence and death that follows the main character, a bounty hunter. The “similar aspects” of the films refer to the plot structure and story, and what “Presented to the audience in different ways” means is simply that each of the respective directors used genre, mise en scene, costumes, sets, makeup, and other plastics to create two very distinctively different films from the same story.
Kurosawa’s Yojimbo is set in 1860 in Japan and involves a rogue samurai who creates war between two rival gangs. Leone’s spaghetti western A Fistful of Dollars is about a lone stranger who does the same in a Mexican town. However despite having the same premise and many of the same sequences, The two films distinguish themselves through the mise en scene. In Yojimbo, all the male characters have swords and all the female characters wear heavy Japanese makeup. All of the characters wear clothes and act in a way that resembles the time of the setting. Kurosawa uses the plastics to distinguish this movie from A Fistful of Dollars. In A Fistful of Dollars Leone uses the vast “Mexican” desert as the setting, the sets are much more complicated, and all the characters have western attire complete with a pistol. Basically, Leone uses the plastics in his film too, but to send a different message than Kurosawa. Leone uses the spectacle of a spaghetti western to create a movie based more on style and action sequences, while Kurosawa’s Yojimbo seems to be more about the substance of the plot and the driving of the story.