The composition of Yojimbo

Miyagawa had worked with Kurosawa just once- for Rashomon, where he did not only what Kurosawa envisioned, but also presented his own ideas– like the low angle photography which enforces comic aspects of the woodcutter’s version, and the long swordfight shots, to make the entire duel slightly ridiculous. Since Rashomon, both rose to international fame but could never work together, since they worked for different companies. When Kurowasa envisioned Yojimbo, against all odds, he chose Miyagawa!

Miyagawa’s style in Yojimbo, consisted of almost perfectly balanced, yet unsymmetrical framing, very peculiar in its style. This led to a pattern which is often based upon the lateral objects or people, which lends a two dimensional aspect, somewhat like a stage-set. This is accompanied with an unusually deep focus which brings very near and very far into visual alignment. The lightning effects are also unique. The lights tend to fill, and often obscure a portion of the wide screen with a dark object (often a person) against a fairly light background. All of these put together directs our interest to two planes at the same time.

Miyagawa’s style and Kurosawa’s intentions together create a unique individual world of Yojimbo. The camera placing is also unique, and often very consistent. Kurosawa uses 3 cameras in the fight scenes. They are usually placed at right angles to the object. They either face a façade of houses, or are placed in the middle of the street looking at one end or the other. Inside the houses, the camera faces the street outside, where much of the action occurs, as seen from the windows. The camera placement gives a feeling of a stage, or rather an open air drama or, better, a dance! Therefore, Yojimbo remains one of Kurosawa’s best composed and most popular films!


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