Samurai -- Japan -- 19th century -- Drama


(The Bodyguard)

Lecture/screening class (3 hours). Special admission applies.

  • Akira Kurosawa: Master of Style

    BAMPFA Senior Film Curator

A visually faultless and highly sophisticated satire on violence and human weakness.

Sight and Sound

Toshiro Mifune, Eijiro Tono, Kamatari Fujiwara, Takashi Shimura,

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 ryo—and have a little fun—by cleaning up the place. Hiring himself first to one group, then the other, he eventually encourages them to kill each other off. Alluding to Japan’s own “gold rush” in the passing from feudal to capitalist society, Yojimbo was inspired by the American Western and combines its best elements—a 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.  

Judy Bloch
  • Akira Kurosawa
  • Ryuzo Kikushima
  • Kazuo Miyagawa
  • Japanese
  • with English subtitles
Print Info
  • B&W
  • 35mm
  • 110 mins
  • Janus Films/Criterion Collection

CineFiles is an online database of BAMPFA's extensive collection of documentation covering world cinema, past and present.

View Yojimbo documents  

At the movies (article), London Review of Books, Michael Wood, 2007

Kurosawa and Mifune (program note), Cinematheque Ontario/a division of Toronto International Film Festival Group, James Quandt, 2002

Kurosawa & Mifune (program note), Film Forum (New York), 2002

Yojimbo (program note), Toronto International Film Festival, Lawrence Kasdan, 1999

Akira Kurosawa (article), American Film, Gerald Peary, 1989

Yojimbo (review), L.A. Weekly, 1980

Yojimbo (program note), Toronto Film Society, Marcia Gillespie, 1980

Japanese film directors -- excerpt (book excerpt), Japan Society, Audie Bock, 1978

The waves at Genji's door -- excerpt (book excerpt), Pantheon Books, Joan Mellen, 1976

The films of Akira Kurosawa (press release), Pacific Film Archive, 1974

Displaying 10 of 31 publicly available documents.

View all Yojimbo documentation on CineFiles.