Film - Feature | August 2 | 7 p.m. | Berkeley Art Museum and Pacific Film Archive
In one of his best-known roles, Toshiro Mifune plays the boisterous, bullying, amoral ronin (masterless samurai) who calls himself simply Sanjuro (Thirty Years Old). When Sanjuro wanders into a town terrorized by an ongoing war between two factions, he decides to make a fistful of ryoand have a little funby cleaning up the place. Hiring himself first to one group, then the other, he eventually encourages them to kill each other off. Alluding to Japans own gold rush in the passing from feudal to capitalist society, Yojimbo was inspired by the American Western and combines its best elementsa remarkable authenticity, finely drawn characters, brilliant comedy, superb editing, and exquisite widescreen cinematography (by Kazuo Miyagawa). Kurosawa makes extensive and surprising use of the telephoto lens, so that the most violent swordfights take on a rare intimacy, and the heroic/antiheroic figure of Sanjuro seems to expand absurdly to epic proportions.
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