Week 5: Yojimbo

Parts of the mise-en-scene such as the setting, costumes, lighting, and props all greatly enhanced the unique tone of Yojimbo and its identity as an essentially Western film taking place in a feudal Japanese setting, with many Quentin Tarantino-esque elements.  The clashing of the old time-esque Japanese setting and the distinctly Western vibe of the film (conveyed through the nature of the shots and also through the way the plot unfolds), proves almost pleasantly discordant, giving the film a very unique identity.

I noticed that the architecture was undeniably Japanese, but that the actual layout of the buildings and their spacings from one another were very Western (facilitating the execution of the iconic show-down scenes later on in the film).

Props prove very important throughout the film, not only giving it an authentic Japanese appearance but augmenting the symbolic essence of it as well; swords are found prevalently, but when the gun is introduced, it becomes obvious that it will become an important plot device (as well as an indicator of the film’s Western influences).  It also becomes insinuated that the owner of the gun will ultimately have to face-off with the main character, as the gunman is the only one who can match up to the main character’s unparalleled swording skills.  However, in the end, the main character is ultimately victorious with a simple shorter blade (shaped like a kitchen knife), as his intimidatingly-accurate aim maims the gunman’s shooting arm.

I first noticed the significance of the characters’ costumes when the two warring gangs faced-off in the streets; the contrasting attire of each samurai is what identified them to whichever corresponding group they were part of.  Also, the greatly-decorated costumes of the two gang leaders identified them as being members of higher status than their fighting samurai.  The costumes interact with the lighting as well, emphasizing the dark vs. light juxtaposition throughout the film.

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One thought on “Week 5: Yojimbo

  1. Looking back at the wide shots of the town, I very much agree with you in that the layout is very similar to that of a western style setting. In return, the setting essentially becomes a supporting character through out the film with its own attitude and personality. As the plot and chaos heightened throughout the film, the town became more destroyed and run downed. This serves to show the effect of the mob bosses on what would otherwise be a quiet Japanese village.

    I too found many of the props in the film to carry significant meaning, especially the weapons. As you already mentioned, I felt the blade versus the pistol was an inevitable battle that the audience expected to see between Sanjuro and the main antagonist of the film. Once it occurred, the battle carried the meaning and lesson that mastery of skill can overcome even the most powerful of forces when it is Sanjuro that defeats the pistol holder with a simple dagger. Thus, I feel that Kurosawa did a tremendous job giving the setting and props of the film life and meaning.

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