So, Yojimbo. I liked it. It was well paced, had good comic relief, and a satisfying ending. I preferred A Fistful Of Dollars more, but I admittedly have a weakness for anything involving Ennio Morricone, whose music is unnaturally good.
That being said, the discussion about Yojimbo. There were several very clever mise-en-scene moments that really caught my eye; most notably, the difference between the ronin (we can call him Bill) and the rest of the town. Bill is the only person who consistently does not slouch, contrasted with the townspeople, who are always stooped over. This really works twofold, both to denote the heroism of Bill, and the oppressive environment of the town. It also emphasizes the toady nature of the townspeople. The other costuming I noticed was that the townspeople, and the thugs, wore predominantly striped clothing, and multiple layers. This is again contrasted to Bill, who wears a single. darker, solid article, with a flower esque pattern.
Bill’s hair is also different than anyone else’s. The natives to the town all have a hairstyle that… well, it’s not so much a hairstyle as it is a forehead style. The thugs, if I remember, did not have such prominent foreheads, a subtle touch to differentiate the fighters from the gentile.
Lighting effects, this being a Japanese film, should also be noted. The use of slats and bars as backdrops gives the set a more 2 dimensional effect. In those scenes especially, the focus was on horizontal action, the characters moving across the screen, not towards or away from. There wasn’t as much attention to depth of field. There were several attempts to thematically use natural lighting, such as candles or heftier fires, but in my opinion, it didn’t work. No way a candle could produce that much light, not to mention the lack of flickering.
And as to A Fistful Of Dollars, I have to say it is definitely worth a watch, although I recommend Sergio Leone’s magnum opus, Once Upon A Time In The West, over Fistful. It has Charles Bronson instead of Clint Eastwood, but hey, for some, that may be a plus.