Wonderworks Moving Pictures: Day 23

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Yojimbo poster fposterThis is two days late, but after a five day a week, nine to five day, five week summer program my mental faculty’s are less than perfect. Thanks to Paul S., Brianna M., Mike H., Mike P., Vinson V., Sophia P. for getting me through the summer alive. Last summer I barely made it and lost my eyesight the final week of the camp. So, hey, not blind and over two hours of original content created by the students. Things are wonderful on their own and amazing by comparison. Thanks to Joe Leydon, Jake Hamilton and Rags Williamson for helping present this summer. You guys provided a valuable insight into the film world.

Ordinarily the last day of the program is reserved for viewing the students projects, but this summer 19 of our kids showed up at 9 a.m. for a double feature. I have to admit it was a rather unorthodox double feature, but it was a student selection with a time stipulation tacked on.

So, Friday morning we snuck into the program Yojimbo and Fargo; two very different one word title films. Yojimbo is an Akira Kurosawa film that takes its plot from the Dashiell Hammett novel Red Harvest.rh I don’t care that Kurosawa said he was inspired by the film version of the Dashiell Hammett novel The Glass Key. gk2The plot is so close that is is hard to call it a coincidence. A man with no name goes into a town run by rival bad guys and hires himself out to both sides. Both sides are killed and the town is saved and the hero wins. A simple plot with an incredible production to support it. Toshiro Mifune is excellent as the wandering samurai who takes his name from the first thing he sees. He elects to call himself  “Kuwabatake Sanjuro” (meaning “mulberry field thirty-year-old”). In the Hammett story, the hero is simply called the Continental Op since he works for the Continental Detective Agency.

Later, Sergio Leone would take the same plot and make Fistful of Dollars, in some instances a shot for shot remake of Yojimbo. Later still, Walter Hill would make Last Man Standing with the same plot.

Side note: George Lucas lifted a shot directly from Yojimbo to use in Star Wars. Rember when Obi Wan severs the arm of the guy in the cantina . . . Sanjuro did the same thing way back in Yojimbo. The students spotted it this summer.

The second film of the morning was Fargo. The kids had like the Coen’s so much we showed a second film of theirs. I wish their had been time enough to show Miller’s Crossing, but of well. Fargo went over well, but I was a little surprised the kids responded more favorably to Yojimbo. In the past when we’ve shown Yojimbo it has not gone over well with the girls. This year was different.

Anyway, five weeks twenty-four films plus over two hours of original content produced by the kids. A pretty goo summer and now I need to get some sleep.

Goodnight.

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