Thursday, November 7, 2013

SHOT THROUGH THE HEART: SANSHIRO SUGATA

In this scene, Sanshiro Sugata, a feared judo-ka who earned his reputation after inadvertently killing his opponent, learns that the young woman he has been visiting, Sayo Murai, is the daughter of his next opponent. Their relationship began after Sanshiro admired her praying for her father.

The following two shots are Sanshiro realizing that Sayo's father is Hansuke Murai, his next opponent. Kurosawa shoots Sanshiro from below, but contrasts his literal higher status with his low feelings. This image itself is contrasted again with Sayo, who is shot at a position lower to Sanshiro, but her feelings are considerably more positive.




Kurosawa then re-frames the characters inside an archway. This creates a box that both characters are trapped in.



Sanshiro, uncomfortable and afraid, attempts to leave this "box" but despite moving further down the stairs is unable to escape it.


After a moment of contemplation, Sanshiro returns up the stairs and informs Sayo that he is the man her father will face at the judo match.


Their positions have not changed, but Kurosawa doesn't film them at as steep an angle as before. The camera seems more level to both. Sayo's joy turns to horror, and Sanshiro begins dealing with his responsibility as a fighter and as a human. They're complicated emotions that can't just be implied by obvious camera angles, Kurosawa lets the actors do the work instead.


We now cut back to a similar shot looking down the stairs, but this time the camera is placed in front of the door frame. Sanshiro is now "free" to move down the path. The camera is also placed in front of Sayo, perhaps it is her point of view, but this also keeps the two characters separated now that Sanshiro has revealed his identity.


This next shot shows Sayo caught in the middle of the stairs, unsure of to go up or down. Above her is the shrine where she prayed, and thus represents her father. Below, of course represents Sanshiro Sugata, the man she is attracted to but also the man who may seriously injure her father.



Kurosawa cuts again to a more distant shot, the stairs seem to extend even further from her on either side. This fully illustrates how lost and alone she feels at this moment. 


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