A to Z of Films Meme (XYZ)

With this post, the film meme on this blog is com­ing to an end. I once again thank Dev from the bot­tom of my heart for urg­ing me to take this up. I am also deeply grate­ful to all of you who have appre­ci­at­ed my writ­ing, pro­vid­ed numer­ous rec­om­men­da­tions, and shared your expe­ri­ences to make this such a won­der­ful­ly enter­tain­ing series!





Kuro­sawa lit­er­al­ly pro­vid­ed the cur­ricu­lum and text­book for Ser­gio Leone and Clint East­wood. He made Yojim­bo pay­ing homage to the ear­li­er John Ford west­erns, and in turn pro­vid­ed the script for remak­ing it into A Fist­ful of Dol­lars and fur­ther, the for­get­table Last Man Stand­ing. And Toshi­ro Mifu­ne was to Kuro­sawa what De Niro was to Scors­ese. Mifu­ne shines bril­liant­ly in this high­ly enter­tain­ing, eas­i­ly acces­si­ble, most pop­u­lar Kuro­sawa film. Yojimbo

A samu­rai mer­ce­nary (San­juro, played by Mifu­ne) drifts into a town to find two gang lords at war with each oth­er. Ordi­nary cit­i­zens meek­ly watch the pro­ceed­ings from their win­dow shut­ters. To earn his liveli­hood, San­juro gets hired as the body­guard at both ends dou­ble-cross­ing both his boss­es. His strat­e­gy is like an intri­cate chess game, where he sup­ports nei­ther side, and his goal is instead to upset the game.

San­juro is amoral and cyn­i­cal. His look has that calm fatal­i­ty of the pro­fes­sion­al sword-slinger. There is almost no one wor­thy of being saved in this town. Every­one is bad and evil, so that the whole dra­ma becomes grotesque and turns into a com­e­dy. How­ev­er, San­juro shows his human side when he is not able to main­tain his amoral detach­ment and helps a poor farmer cou­ple escape. He even­tu­al­ly over­comes the con­se­quences of his tryst with good, and that helps us empathize with him as the hero.

There is a geo­met­ric strat­e­gy to the cam­era per­spec­tives uti­liz­ing strict­ly right-angle cam­era views and deep focus on the widescreen. A long emp­ty street lined by hous­es is shown with the cam­era view­ing one end or the oth­er. The hous­es are shown direct­ly look­ing inside the win­dows at right-angles to the street. From inside the hous­es, the street is shown at right angles, or when show­ing the scene inside, our back is towards the street. The strat­e­gy is to pro­vide a sim­ple polar­i­ty to the sit­u­a­tion, turn­ing the hero into a diag­o­nal who upsets the bal­ance.

The set­tings, pro­duc­tion design, and music (the most for any Kuro­sawa movie) are all won­der­ful. The samu­rai cos­tumes with emp­ty sleeves flap­ping at the sides gave rise to the East­wood pon­cho. Mifune’s San­juro, who essen­tial­ly replies ‘30-some­thing with no name’ when asked his name became Eastwood’s “Man with No Name”, a char­ac­ter influ­enc­ing movies for four decades.


If you’ve exhaust­ed all oth­er options and are still look­ing for a pass­able feel-good roman­tic com­e­dy, You’ve Got Mail may fit the bill. It’s not offi­cial­ly my run­ner-up or note­wor­thy men­tion as it’s too gim­micky and sug­ar-coat­ed for my taste.



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  • 🙂

    It has been my plea­sure to read this series on your blog. I have added so many movies on wish­list. I will cer­tain­ly come back when I watch all of them, includ­ing this one. 🙂

  • Dev

    Let me con­grat­u­late you for doing this meme in such a com­pre­hen­sive and pro­fes­sion­al man­ner! Your posts were very inter­est­ing to read and your selec­tions top notch. Iam sure many oth­er read­ers also ben­e­fit­ed from your meme posts. I myself learnt about quite a few films from your posts, films which oth­er­wise I might not have both­ered about. Even though you have fin­ished the meme now, I would still hope that you keep writ­ing about your favorite films, direc­tors etc in future too.
    Regard­ing this post, I will check Yojim­bo. As for Z, check Zelig, an obscure Woody Allen film but very pro­found.

  • Thanks mahen­dra for a won­der­ful series. There is a (french) movie called Z — I remem­ber see­ing it lo.…ng ago. It was a pow­er­ful movie.


  • Ah, Arun got to it before I did — I was curi­ous whether you’d men­tion it. Yes, ‘Z’ is a won­der­ful and pow­er­ful film, set in Greece dur­ing the mil­i­tary dic­ta­tor­ship and focus­es on the mur­der of a left­ist politi­cian. Direct­ed by Cos­ta Gavras who also direct­ed “Miss­ing” — anoth­er bril­liant film.

  • Arun, Amit, thanks! I have added ‘Z’ to the list.

  • Have you seen Zodi­ac? I think you might like it.
    Also, I have to read this tag from the begin­ning. I will be very fre­quent­ly using it for ref­er­ences.

  • It was fun read­ing this series Mahen­dra!

  • Hi Mahen­dra,

    I think you’ve done very good jus­tice to this meme. Your (and every­one else’s) con­tri­bu­tions and opin­ions have added so much val­ue to it. Real­ly enjoyed the whole series (can it be called that?); more so because it’s been inter­ac­tive and elicit­ed so much par­tic­i­pa­tion from every­one else too! So thanks 🙂


  • great, great series.
    enjoyed read­ing your posts ! do try and see Z -by costas gravas
    there is also zan­jeer — with the big B. A great, great film !

  • Anand


    You have done an awe­some job with this meme. Not only did you list out the movies, but also wrote in length about them while avoid­ing spoil­ers. Your movie reviews were very insight­ful and inter­est­ing. Thanks a ton for this meme. It has def­i­nite­ly made me want to see all these movies now 🙂

    The com­ments and rec­om­men­da­tions post­ed by the read­ers were also great.

    Can you please send me the xls file that you were main­tain­ing