Thursday, May 22, 2008


By Charles Zigman

Just like the French and the Americans, the Japanese, too, have always made great movies about Iconic Loners, which is why the Japanese continue to respond to Jean Gabin, even today.

In Japan, of course, ‘The Loner’ usually appears in the form of the silent, world-weary samurai, a guy who, just like Gabin’s ‘tragic drifters’ of the 1930s, is forever traversing the eternal plains, battling enemies who seem to pop-up out of the dunes like so many psychotic whack-a-moles, while occasionally ‘scoring with the hot geisha chicks!’ (Zatoichi: The Blind Swordsman, Hanzo the Razor, the Baby Cart Series, and Seven Samurai are all great Japanese Samurai Movies which feature mega-cool loners at their (soft)-centers.

On-screen movie Samurai-characters, just like Jean Gabin’s on-screen characters, concern themselves neither with victory nor defeat, but only with their own survival, as they walk the arid landscapes, plunging both inevitably and irrevocably toward their own Cruel Fates (which consist, usually, of imprisonment, death, or [even worse], ‘walking away, alone,’ a phenomenon which, in a Gabin movie, is even worse than death)! Indeed, when you read the Samurai (or, ‘Bushido’) Code, as it was articulated in the 9th-century, what you’re pretty much reading, is an encapsulation of Jean Gabin’s world’s famous ‘1934-to-‘41/tragic-drifter’ movie persona, and yet it was written eight centuries before Jean Gabin was even born!


I have no parents; I make the Heavens and the Earth my parents.
I have no home; I make the Tan T'ien my home.
I have no divine power; I make honesty my Divine Power.
I have no means; I make Docility my means.
I have no magic power; I make personality my Magic Power.
I have neither life nor death; I make my Life and Death.
I have no body; I make Stoicism my Body.
I have no eyes; I make The Flash of Lightning my eyes.
I have no ears; I make Sensibility my Ears.
I have no limbs; I make Promptitude my Limbs.
I have no laws; I make Self-Protection my Laws.
I have no strategy; I make the Right to Kill and the Right to Restore Life my Strategy.
I have no designs; I make Seizing the Opportunity by the Forelock my Designs.
I have no miracles; I make Righteous Laws my Miracle.
I have no principles; I make Adaptability to all circumstances my Principle.
I have no tactics; I make Emptiness and Fullness my Tactics.
I have no talent; I make Ready Wit my Talent.
I have no friends; I make my Mind my Friend.
I have no enemy; I make Incautiousness my Enemy.
I have no armour; I make Benevolence my Armour.
I have no castle; I make Immovable Mind my Castle.
I have no sword; I make No Mind my Sword.

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