Analysing films – understanding cultures.

Analysing films – understanding cultures. On Akira Kurosawa’s „Yojimbo“ and his two remakes „Per un pugno di dollari“ and „Last man standing“

The analysis of movies and TV films is challenged to become sensitive to cultural theory as seen against the background of globalisation and the international media exchange which is likewise a cultural exchange. In media sciences such sensitivity has been applied to a certain extent by Cultural Studies which focus on the cultural differences within the European-American culture with regard to the multi-cultural aspects and the effects of migration along with the pluralisation of life worlds and “sub cultures”. Since the 80ies the German-speaking regions have seen similar sensitivity to the significance of the concept of culture in sociology. The German media sciences, which for a long time have been influenced by the “Critical theory” on the one hand, and by a “Positivistic empiricism” on the other hand need to be further developed, in particular when it comes to analysing an oeuvre, ie a movie or a film, which is based on the attitude that an oeuvre can be approached by using a set of objective tools. Evi Hallermayer’s dissertation is a concrete step in this direction as it focuses on three mutually dependant films which have been made in three different cultural areas. The selection of the cultural areas and the films will provide significant cultural differences and enable a comparison based on the consecutive interdependence of the films. The following films have been selected: Yojimbo by Akira Kurosawa (Japan), “Per un pugno di dollari” by “Sergio Leone” (Italy), and “Last man standing” by Walter Hill (USA). The last two films mentioned are a remake of the first film. The selection of the films to be analysed from the perspective of cultural theory will lead to a certain degree of clarity with regard to cultural differences: the Samurai is a figure which is strongly linked to the Japanese identity and the discourses on its change. Although Italo westerns do not represent an original genre, but are a reaction to the American western, they take on genuinely European features. The western and the (American) gangster film, however, are genres which have established basic myths of the American identity and at the same time develop discourses on such myths. Due to the vicinity between the Italo western and the American western the comparison of “Per un pugno di dollari” and “Last man standing” obtains a higher degree of validity.