Variations on a theme: Yojimbo, A Fistful of Dollars and the ‘servant of two masters’

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Abstract:

Abstract

Sergio Leone's ‘spaghetti’ western A Fistful of Dollars (1964) is known to be in many respects a derivation from Akira Kurosawa's swordfighting film Yojimbo (1961), which in turns borrows from Dashiell Hammett's novel Red Harvest. But the two films have never to our knowledge been subjected to detailed comparison in relation to each other or to shared common origins. In this article we look at the known facts about Leone's ‘borrowing’ from Kurosawa and then compare the two films in respect of narrative similarity, character, genre attachment and ethical-cultural factors. We conclude that a very close narrative similarity goes hand-in-hand with substantial differences at other levels, and raise the more general question of the adaptability of a central narrative core to a wide variety of possible workings-out.

Document Type: Research Article

DOI: http://dx.doi.org/10.3167/147335304782369249

Publication date: March 1, 2004

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