If The Godfather is to mafia, The Yakuza is to, well, yakuza. The ’70s saw the rebirth of gangster movies. (Thanks, Corleone.) Among the best ones included Sydney Pollack’s The Yakuza. This Robert Mitchum-starrer tells the lifelong friendship between two men, Harry Kilmer (Mitchum) and Ken Tanaka (Ken Takakura). Both men love the same woman (Keiko Kishi), but circumstances turned hate into honor.
The film’s DVD cover has a clever design. Bordered by the color red, most of the cover is dipped in black, with the film’s title in bold, red font. Red is the color of blood and love. Two of The Yakuza‘s main themes are crime (blood) and forbidden love. At the upper part of the cover is one of the film’s taglines, “A man never forgets. A man pays his debts.” The second tagline, “100 years ago they were called Samurai” is placed under the title. And then a smaller picture of Kilmer can be seen at the bottom part, which I think is merely there for publicity. (Oh, look! A Mitchum movie.)
Below the first tagline is a picture of a shotgun barrel (symbolizes Kilmer), the tip of a samurai sword (Ken), and a white rose (Eiko, the woman) — all of these are set against a bamboo shade background. A bamboo shade conceals, you put it down when you don’t want others to see what you’re up to inside. In my observation, the bamboo shade symbolizes the covert affairs of the yakuza.
What I find most interesting about the picture is the red image of the three main characters (Kilmer, Eiko, and Ken), which is “tattooed” on the samurai sword. It’s as if the blood permanently drew itself on the sword. As red is the color of blood, blood flows through our veins to give us life. These three characters are connected to each other forever (just like veins), saving each other’s lives (keeping the blood flowing). This is a very intelligent depiction of the characters’ lifelong connection.
DISCLAIMER: No copyright infringement intended. I don’t own or claim to own any of the photos used.