Oakland's Melwood Screening Room will present the 1961 Akira Kurosawa film Yojimbo (用心棒) on July 30. An excerpt of a 2005 Roger Ebert review:
[Kurosawa] was deliberately combining the samurai story with the Western, so that the wind-swept main street could be in any frontier town, the samurai (Toshiro Mifune) could be a gunslinger, and the local characters could have been lifted from John Ford's gallery of supporting actors.The show starts at 8:00, and the theater is located at 477 Melwood Ave. in Oakland (map). Part of the Essential Cinema series, tickets are $2.
Ironic, that having borrowed from the Western, Kurosawa inspired one: Sergio Leone's "A Fistful of Dollars" (1964), with Clint Eastwood, is so similar to "Yojimbo" that homage shades into plagiarism. Even Eastwood's Man With No Name is inspired, perhaps, by the samurai in "Yojimbo." Asked his name, the samurai looks out the window, sees a mulberry field, and replies, "Kuwabatake Sanjuro," which means "30-year-old mulberry field." He is 30, and that is a way of saying he has no name.
He also has no job. The opening titles inform us that in 1860, after the collapse of the Tokugawa Dynasty, samurai were left unemployed and wandered the countryside in search of work. We see Sanjuro at a crossroads, throwing a stick into the air and walking in the direction it points. That brings him to the town, to possible employment, and to a situation that differs from Hollywood convention in that the bad guys are not attacking the good guys because there are no good guys[.]