Monday, May 18, 2009
Sanjuro's appearance in town stands as one of the greatest introductions of setting of all time, the town is given life in a brief sequence that allows the entire film to benefit from it's evocative beauty. The town is empty, yet through a series of dutch angles and long shots, Kurosawa is able to establish a permeating tension that ripples throughout the town. As Sanjuro approaches, townsfolk peer from behind shudders and wooden columns, paralyzed with fear. Though this fear is without known cause, we are soon illuminated to the nature of it; a dog appears, running through town with a severed hand hanging from it's mouth. Sanjuro's reaction is almost imperceptible, yet the dimensional quality of Sanjuro is portrayed as a man who possesses such intelligence as well as such physical ability in his use of subtle mannerisms which betray his true intentions. The dog continues along its way, and Sanjuro meets his central connection to the violence ravaged town in Gonji, the tavern keeper.
Among Kurosawa's previous efforts within the samurai genre , Yojimbo is remarkable for it's restrained focus, it opens on a shot of Sanjuro from behind, and remains stuck to him through to the end of the picture. The few scenes which take place in his absence are used strictly to reveal events which he earlier had set in motion. While on screen he oscillates between a deadly ferocity and serene contemplation, steadily taciturn and unwilling to compromise, both as an actor as well as a catalyst for the plot. The opening shot of Sanjuro looking over the mountainside serves to establish the proximity the entire film will take to him; he will never be far from the camera's view.