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Yojimbo Essay On Personality

In the movie Yojimbo by Akira Kurosawa there are several story lines, where every event is a consequence of a previous, but it looks interesting to examine an aspect of the attitude of characters to their weapon and the result of overestimating its role. The genre of this movie is jidaigeki and tells about the period of mid-19th century, shortly before dissolution of samurai status. There a culture of cold still arms is shown, which is gradually replaced by firearm.

A big attention is paid to Unosuke, one of the antagonists, and his pistol, which is supposed to be more powerful weapon than a sword of Sanjuro, the main character. The pistol makes Unosuke feel too confident and invulnerable. He does not pay any attention to other ways of struggling except of weapon, and this delusion leads him to a defeat step by step. So weapon and a possibility to use its influence to a personality, and this influence is not always beneficial. According to Akira Kurosawa Yojimbo the introduction of new technology into society will lead to addiction and destruction.

The most obviously influence of weapon owning and using may be observed comparing personalities of three absolutely different characters: Sanjuro, the main character who is trying to struggle with criminals; Unosuke, a brother of one of criminal leaders, the antagonist; and Gonji, a tavern keeper, who helped Sanjuro. These personalities are fictional, but they demonstrate the behavior of people with different power level quite believable. Gonji is a cantinier, and, perhaps, never took a weapon in his hands.

He is shown as a timid and cautious person, who has not a desire to interfere the criminal hassles, despite the fact that he struggled from their lawlessness as well as other citizens. In the scene of first meeting with Sanjuro Gonji’s nervousness and despair are demonstrated, but he is helpless and depressed and quite unfriendly to his client, who pretends to be a criminal as well. However, he becomes braver and even riskier when he discovers the real nature of Sanjuro. The presence of hero gives him a hope, and nearness to someone who knows how to hold a weapon changes him.

Sanjuro is a ronin, who came in a little town to sabotage activity of two criminal gangs, which are keeping city in a fear. He is a skilled fighter, and this fact let him not to be afraid of cruelty of local killers. He is calm and arrogant a bit, sometimes he looks indifferent and cynic. He plays his role, moving to his goal, manipulating people though their weaknesses like cruelty and greed. This behavior is supported by the ability to protect himself, meaning fighting skill and keeping sword close. The most interesting phenomenon is a personality of Unosuke.

In the episode when an audience meet Unosuke for the first time, he demonstrates the power of distant injuring of his pistol. During all the next scenes he behaves boldly and confidently, but there is no reason for that except of his superior weapon. He does not demonstrate neither fighting skill, nor extraordinary intelligence, but he feels about his fellow citizens like wild men, as he did travelled for several time and had seen much more things than anyone of them, and possess a technology which exceeds their primitive swords many times.

On example of these three characters the connection between armament and behavior is quite obvious. Not all the sides of their personalities are involved and demonstrated, but self-confidence, prudence and resolve are definitely influenced. Despite the fact that there are intrigues, provocations and blackmails in a plot of movie, a brute force defines the result of struggle, and characters are shown prioritizing accordingly. When Sanjuro proposes his service to crime lords, they take into consideration only his skills in martial arts, but not his trickery, avarice and treachery.

Confidence about supremacy of his gang with a participation of Sanjuro made Seibie, the leader of crime clan, provoke a fight with other clan. Unosuke relied on his pistol too much, which came out in the fact that he did not try to take other precautions for his success and defense. It looks like some kind of addiction, which prevents finding alternatives even in a critical situation. The most clear demonstration of this addiction is the fact that Unosuke believed that owning a gun is enough for a victory, and shooting skill does not matter, as he did not trained and did not even aim when met Sanjuro in a final fight.

He underestimated his enemy, who had only a cold still arms in his possession, and this fact lead Unosuke to death. There is an eloquent scene, when he says: “If I don’t have my pistol, I feel sort of naked” and Sanjuro lets him to take a gun. It is a very clear display of nobility, kindness and naivety of Sanjuro, but at the same time a confirmation of Unosuke’s weakness. Firstly, the unawareness of Sanjuro gave Unosuke the chance, but he failed using it, as he was in a bad shape, and the injury took away his strength too fast.

Secondly, this scene demonstrates a thinking stereotype of characters: Sanjuro did not suspected a trick in Unosuke’s wish, which means that addiction to a weapon, a desire to keep it close even when a fight is failed, is something normal and predictable for that society. One more evidence of this idea is observed in a scene when Sanjuro is caught, and two gangsters leave him untied. They believe that “He is nothing without his sword”, and do not take into account that there is no need in sword for quiet runaway.

The escape without fight is beyond their belief, and this delusion results in missing a captive. Concluding all these observations it is pertinent to note, that not the armory and fighting techniques were a core moving force of the plot, but the attitude of characters to those. Antagonists are too narrow-minded and unable to see more than a weapon and a hand holding it. If they assumed nonviolent way of resolving their conflict, Sanjuro could pass their small town without intervention. They ignored arguments which were not supported by weapon and strength, and this led them to the sad end they deserved.

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