|Directed by||Akira Kurosawa|
|Produced by||Ryuzo Kikushima
|Written by||Ryuzo Kikushima
|Music by||Masaru Sato|
|Editing by||Akira Kurosawa|
|Distributed by||Toho Company Ltd.|
|Release date(s)||January 1, 1962 (Japan)
May 7, 1963 (US)
|Running time||96 minutes|
Nine young samurai believe that the lord chamberlain, Mutsuta, is corrupt after tearing up a petition against organised crime. One samurai told the superintendent of this, who agreed to intervene. As the nine meet secretly at a temple and discuss their problem, a ronin (Mifune) emerges from another room where he had been resting. The ronin had overheard their plans, and suggests that the superintendent is in fact the real corrupt official. While at first the samurai are insulted by his claims, they soon find themselves surrounded by the official's men, proving that he was correct. The ronin fights off the men in return for money, however after realizing that Mutsuta could now be in danger, he decides to help the samurai bring down the corruption.
They first begin by rescuing Mutsuta's wife (played by Takako Irie) and daughter (Reiko Dan). The group hide in a house within the chamberlain's compound. Musuta's wife asks the ronin's name; looking out the window at tsubaki (camellia) trees, he invents the name Tsubaki Sanjūrō. The lady insists that Sanjuro refrain from unnecessary killing.
The Superintendent's henchman Muroto Hanbei (Tatsuya Nakadai), and several other corrupt officials address a plan to outsmart the chamberlain's followers. First they arrest the chamberlain by making a false claim that he has been in charge of organised crime. Afterwards, they try to lure out the samurai by setting out a patrol of palanquins, believing that the samurai will think the officials are in them and attack. This backfires on them.
Sanjuro decides to get closer to Hanbei's master by going undercover as his henchman. Mistrust causes several of the samurai believe he is switching sides. The samurai agree that four of them will follow him: two who believed in him and two who did not. However, Sanjuro realizes he is being followed and the four are easily captured. When Hanbei leaves to request reinforcements Sanjuro frees the samurai, at the expense of having to kill all the guards. He demands the four samurai tie him up, and is found in disgrace. Understanding Hanbei cannot hire him after such a fiasco, Sanjuro insincerely commits to finding the attackers.
The next day, Mutsuta's wife and daughter find a parchment of the torn up petition flowing from a stream through the compound. The samurai realise that Mutsuta is being imprisoned in the room opposite where the samurai are staying. While at first they consider a full on attack at the officials, they soon find that the superintendent's entire force is surrounding them, meaning an attack would end in slaughter.
Sanjuro hatches a plan to get the army out of the compound, and then sending a sign to attack through camellias down the stream. The first part of the plan works and the force is moved, however Hanbei catches him trying to send the sign and ties him up. When the officials realise that Sanjuro has moved the army on purpose, Hanbei races off to retrieve them. In a comedic scene, Sanjuro tricks the remaining officials into making the Samurai attack. It works and they manage to rescue the Chamberlain. Hanbei returns later to find he has been made a fool of once more.
Later the samurai find that Sanjuro has left the compound. After racing off to find him, he is found with Hanbei, about to duel.
Sanjuro is reluctant to fight and tries to dissuade Hanbei saying that if they do fight, one of them would die and there is nothing to be gained from that.
Hanbei insists, feeling that he will not be at ease unless one of them is put to rest. Sanjuro kills Hanbei. A fountain of blood gushes from Hanbei. When the young samurai cheer his victory, Sanjuro becomes angry. He states that dead adversary was exactly like him, so that at least he now has an understanding of what he really represents. Sanjuro then leaves.
The story is largely based on Shūgorō Yamamoto's short story "Peaceful Days" (日日平安 Nichinichi hei-an). Originally Sanjuro was to be a straight adaptation of the story. After the success of Yojimbo the studio decided to resurrect its popular antihero, and Kurosawa reimagined the script accordingly.
The scene where a single blossom falls into a rushing stream raised severe problems on how to pull it off. Originally the crew considered using piano wire but were afraid the light glinting on it would show up on film. A female costume designer suggested unraveling a woman's stocking and using the nylon due to its strength and invisibility. When it worked, Kurosawa said the happiness he felt at that moment was "indescribable".
In the same documentary Nakadai and production designer Yoshirô Muraki relate that the notorious "blood explosion" at the film's end was done in one take. At the moment that the compressor hose attached to actor Tatsuya Nakadai was activated it blew a coupling causing a much larger gush of fluid than planned. In fact it was so strong that it nearly lifted him off the ground and it took all his might to finish the scene.
|Toshiro Mifune||Sanjuro Tsubaki|
|Tatsuya Nakadai||Hanbei Muroto|
|Yuzo Kayama||Iori Izaka|
|Takako Irie||Mutsuta's wife|
- "Sanjuro". britannica.com. Retrieved 22 August 2012.
- Richie, Donald. The films of Akira Kurosawa. p. 156.
- Yoshinari Okamoto (director) (2002). Kurosawa Akira: Tsukuru to iu koto wa subarashii [Akira Kurosawa: It is Wonderful to Create] (in Japanese).
- Sasamori, Junzo; Warner, Gordon (1989). This is Kendo - the art of Japanese fencing. p. 38-41. ISBN 0-8048-1607-7.
- Sanjuro at the Internet Movie Database
- Sanjuro at AllRovi
- Criterion Collection essay by Michael Sragow
- Sanjuro (Japanese) at the Japanese Movie Database