Yojimbo

Set at the end of the Tokugawa era, YOJIMBO follows the rōnin Sanjuro (Toshirô Mifune) who, while wandering the countryside, happens upon a village over which two clans wage war. Sensing an opportunity, the rōnin wiles his way into the conflict with the goal of killing both sides and extorting what he can from the clans in the process. But as he becomes more involved in the scheme and with the helpless townspeople, the brash Unosuke (Tatsuya Nakadai), brother of one of the clan’s bodyguards, comes to town armed with a pistol—the first ever seen in the village. For his role as the masterless samurai confronted with the realities of modernization and the waning of his breed, Mifune won the Best Actor Award at the 1961 Venice Film Festival.

Appears in: Samurai Cinema

Genres: Drama, Thriller

Other Films by Akira Kurosawa

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Seven Samurai

Kurosawa’s humanistic masterpiece of honor and courage takes place in a small 18th-century village in the Japanese countryside, where peasants eke out a meager existence from their crops. Threatened by a rogue band of thieves intent on pillaging their food supply, the villagers are forced to hire protection: seven lone samurai, led by Kurosawa regulars

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Throne of Blood

One of the most enduring cinematic “twists on Shakespeare” is Akira Kurosawa’s take on Macbeth, which relocates the play to 15th century feudal Japan. Two warriors returning from battle encounter an eerie spirit in the forest who promises them great fortune upon their return. Spurred on by the spirit’s prophecy—and the power-hungry manipulations of his

Takashi Shimura and Toshiro Mifune in Akira Kurosawa's STRAY DOG (1949). Courtesy Janus Films. Playing 1/6-1/14.

Stray Dog

Kurosawa’s neorealist, post-war tale of urban malaise follows homicide detective Murakami (Kurosawa regular Toshiro Mifune) during a sweltering heat wave in which he has his gun stolen on a crowded bus. Riddled with shame and guilt, Murakami sets out on an odyssey to recover the weapon, encountering a wide array of unique individuals as he

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Ran

One of the late masterpieces of Japanese master Kurosawa’s long and distinguished career, Ran was inspired by Shakespeare’s King Lear and the legend of daimyo (lord) Mori Motonari. Tatsuya Nakadai plays Hidetora Ichimonji, an aging warrior-lord who decides to abdicate in favor of his three sons, Taro, Jiro, and Saburo. His youngest son Saburo declares