The punctuation of Sanjuro

One of Kurosawa’s greatest punctuational accomplishments lies in the memorable climax of Sanjuro- the splendid final duel between Mifune and Nakadai. They meet outside the city. They face each other, both being fine swordsmen. Swords still in sheaths, they confront each other. There is a 15 seconds of pause, an enormous amount for the climax of the film, which none but Kurosawa could have accomplished!

Then in a single moment, both draw their strike! Within a second, what follows is so grand that it is beyond what any Kurosawa fan would have ever imagined! Mifune has slashed so quickly and so deeply that he has sliced into the heart of the opponent. There is an explosion of blood, a great spray, accompanied by the most blood-curdling sound effects!

Well, this scene alone can glorify the punctuation of Sanjuro till the end of mankind! However there are numerous other scenes, where the punctuation is remarkable, especially the scene where Mifune is trying to sleep. The boys, however, intensely excited, are bustling about, racing in and out of the room, discussing their plan. In a series of very short cuts, each separated by a wipe (a technique Kurosawa uses time and again to bring comic effect in his films), we watch Mifune getting more and more irritated. This, along with many other sequences are carefully crafted and punctuated to make Sanjuro a remarkable masterpiece!


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