Re: RARA-AVIS: Kurosawa and English subtitles

From: David Moran (
Date: 06 Jul 2004

Yojimbo is most definitely an adaptation of Red Harvest. But with samurai. Pretty good movie, too. Leans a little more towards the comedic than Hammett's novel does, but still effective and fun. The sequel, Sanjuro, which is a reprise of the character from Yojimbo but has no direct connection to Hammett, is even more comic and considerably less successful.

I've never had any problems with the subtitling in any of his movies.

And I'd certainly vouch for Kurosawa as being hardboiled "enough." Mostly because he was such an unabashed fan of American genre films, particular westerns and gangster pics. Despite being Japanese and all, he really directs like an American. (For a more trad Japanese film-direction style, look to Yasujiro Ozu or Kenji Mizoguchi.)

Also, if I recall correctly, inYojimbo there's a scene in which the main character (Toshiro Mifune) gets clapped around by some thug that is an almost exact crib from the American screen adaptation of Hammett's "The Glass Key" in which Alan gets tossed around by some of the heavy's goons in a back room. I remember watching it and thinking "Hey, I've seen this scene before..."

But I think his samurai pictures are piffle in comparison with his more explicit noirs like "Stray Dog" and "The Bad Sleep Well". "High and Low" is pretty good too.

"Ran," I think, is a hideous mess perhaps best avoided unless you've decided that you love his other movies and need to see them all. In case you don't know, it's his samurai-adaptation of "King Lear." Much, much more successful in effect is his B&W adaptation of Macbeth, "Throne of Blood." Love that title.

David Moran

> I'm not familiar with him. I checked him out on
> Netflix and they've got several movies by him.
> Yojimbo looked like the one that I think has been
> referred to as an adaptation of RED HARVEST. There
> was another called Ran. Can I get a decent
> understanding of the movies reading English subtitles?
> Thanks, miker

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