We start off with a shot following behind a man, a little below eye level. What a great introduction! Who is he? The credits run, and he continues to walk, never showing his face:
And even after we see his face, this man remains a mystery throughout the film. The only name we get is one that he clearly made up ("Call me Sanjuro. It will do.") and his history is never explained. His motives are clear enough: this small town he stumbles on has a lot of bad men with too much money for their own good. "Sanjuro" plans to kill them and take their money - not by brute force, but by craft and wit. And it's working at first:
Unfortunately, nothing ever goes that smoothly. A government inspector arrives in town, and everyone stops fighting to play nice. Once the inspector leaves, "Sanjuro" redoubles his efforts to play each side against the other and get them fighting again. It gets messy very quickly, and "Sanjuro" ends up very much involved by the end, no longer able to remain in the belltower, literally or figuratively.
As with other Kurosawa scripts, by now, we've seen this story and its various elements many times over. What makes me love Kurosawa's movies so much is the execution. Everything fits together into a perfect adventure story, with suspense, surprising plot twists, action, and character melding together. Nothing ever feels compromised to my mind. My only criticism of the movie is the music is overly and abruptly melodramatic. Rating: On the Kurosawa list, only below The Seven Samurai
. Overall #32, between La Dolce Vita
and City of God
, at least for now. I loved