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Inspirography: Sukiyaki Western Django

This Inspirography entry takes a look at the first truly mixed-genre example that came along after development of Far West had begun. Initially, our inspiration had been pure examples of the spaghetti western and wuxia genres, along with western-inspired fantasies like Stephen King’s Dark Tower series. A mere 4 months after development had begun, however, this film was released by Takashi Miike — a brilliant director known for controversial classics like Ichi the Killer and Audition. Whereas the trappings are Japanese, rather than Chinese, the mixture of East and West was absolutely the sort of blend we were striving towards.

The film re-tells the story of the Genpei War in late Heian-period Japan, but through the lens of spaghetti westerns (especially the Sergio Leone film A Fistful of Dollars, which was based on the Akira Kurosawa film Yojimbo — the story of a stranger coming to a town gripped by the conflict between two gangs, and tricking the gangs into destroying each other). The gangs of Dollars become the Genji and Heike clans, in a strange blended eastern-western setting: The town of “Yuta” in “Nevata”, which mixes traditional Japanese architecture with the look of an Old West town.

Lending to the sense of surrealism, Miike filmed the entire movie in English — even if his actors did not speak the language, they learned their lines phonetically. Even Quentin Tarantino (in two cameo appearances) lends his line delivery in a strange, over-enunciated manner.

The result is a stylish and strange amalgamation of western and samurai-movie set-pieces, with obvious inspiration lifted from sources like the Shogun’s Assasin films, The Good, The Bad and The Ugly, Kurosawa’s Yojimbo and the original Django (right down to a Japanese version of the famous Louis Baccalov theme song). Fast-paced, frantic and lurid — and of course, many critics didn’t get it. All the more reason for you to check it out. It’s currently available on DVD.

We’ll leave you with the trailer, as a taste:

Our next inspirography will start looking at the pure-genre sources that formed the ingredients of Far West.
 
 
 

One Comment

  1. Eddie Martin says:

    Great choice. I try to recommend this movie to all my friends, and everyone I’ve loaned it to has loved it.

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