Akira Kurasawa, Sanjuro
Inkjet on watercolour paper
90 x 60 centimetres
I have long been a fan of Japanese director Akira Kurasawa’s 1962 film Sanjuro and I recently had the pleasure of watching on a video streaming service, a very different experience to seeing it the first time at a university film club in the 1970’s. At the time Japanese cinema was relatively foreign to me, as was the samurai film, and I was immediately struck by the effectiveness of Kurasawa’s use of the camera to tell the story, by the odd stylised movements of the actors and how the actors were framed in the interior and exterior spaces.
The film’s story is based on clan rivalries and a frequently used narrative device is the surveillance of the enemy clan which involves crouching behind shrubbery, peering over walls and lurking in the inky shadows of the night time village. In this reimagining I’ve pared back the number of samurais in frame, partly to ease the work load and partly for compositional reasons, plus the figures have been westernised into warriors clad in jeans and sneakers, much like how western film directors adjusted the characters to become cowboys in the various remakes of Kurasawa’s movies. The figures scan a weird, architecturally hybrid house that one may expect to find in an American suburb and it is guarded by a sinister sepulchral figure.The New York Times: Sanjuro