Yojimbo and the Satire Within

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Date Submitted: 09/14/2011 11:39 PM

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Akira Kurosawa’s Yojimbo strays a bit far from one of his other works, Seven Samurai, in that the tone of the film is much more of a satire than that of the latter. Yojimbo altogether satirizes the ignorance that stems from violence, the stubborn minds of criminals, and the dishonorable deeds bandits exhibit. The samurai protagonist of the film, Sanjuro, visits a town with two rival gangs who plot to take over each other’s territory. Unlike Seven Samurai, which establishes the good vs. evil, in Yojimbo the audience is immersed in a film with a majority of disgusting, selfish, dishonorable characters.

But Sanjuro runs into one particular character, Tokuemon, the sake seller, who he establishes a genuine connection with. Sanjuro, who is penniless, receives a hearty meal and drink from Tokuemon, who is fully aware that Sanjuro has nothing to offer, but his violent hand in taking out local gangsters. Tokuemon immediately denies Sanjuro’s deal and requests him to leave after his meal and that no more killings were unnecessary in the town. The gap between the past and the present is evident to the protagonist for which he highly admires. Sanjuro realizes his role that he provides to the two parties, and understands himself to be a huge assistance to either faction. With his manipulative hand, he decides to commit himself to one side until he finds out that this side he has joined plans to retaliate against him after he’s “used”. Soon after once the first fight scene has been initiated, he decides to return his mercenary payments and sits on a high watch-post in the middle of the fight. In my opinion, the ladder represented that he was above the useless quarrels and the rivalry between the two gangs. He laughs as his ex-members are confused as whether to attack or run. Sanjuro repeatedly says , “That was amusing” throughout the film and to the audience it almost seems he’s taking the situation too lightly. In my personal opinion of Sanjuro, I thought he was the...