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2013 | 2(29) | 59-77

Article title

Droga samuraja


Title variants

The Way of the Samurai

Languages of publication



In this paper I shall analyze the phenomenon of popular culture and its reception in its narrow meaning as well as in the wider one. Popular culture – as it has been shown by Jocke Hermes, one of its researchers by reaching for simple means of communication and by relying on simplified stylistics, can explain reality and change attitudes of its receivers towards the world. Film is a crucial element of popular culture, and Jim Jarmusch’s “Ghost Dog. The Way of the Samurai” makes for a very interesting example. On the one hand, it shows violence and fighting in an aestheticized way, on the other, however, it also shows how culture incorporates elements of other cultures. What I shall focus on in the present paper is especially this second aspect. The tale about an African American who lives by the Samurai code, faithfully reconstructing the attitudes described in a textbook and gradually adopting the mentality of “the East,” becomes a perfect illustration of cultural influence and interaction between cultures. The man portrayed by Jarmusch relies on a textbook: “The Way of the Samurai,” and is thus able to choose cultural paradigmata on his own, drawing from the possibilities that the modern, open form of multiculturalism presents to him. At the same time, he is authentic, almost primary in his actions. By remaining faithful to his master and to the Samurai virtues, he returns to the world of Japanese culture and tradition. The fact of him being an African American, a man rooted in both African and Western culture (he lives, was born and brought up in the United States) is being treated as a parallel. He completes his existential development through contact with a different culture and its values.The essence of the story are gangster fights, therefore fighting and its canons are contrasted with cultural requirements. The fact that Jarmusch’s film is based on violence, and that only through this violence can the cultural determinants be shown, may have a double meaning. On the one hand, the contrast between modern aggression of Western people (simple and based only on physical violence) and the Samurai code (requiring one not only to comply with given virtues, but also to be in control of oneself) can show the relation between Eastern and Western culture, as well as provide a modern take on many traditions and their meaning. On the other hand, this martial art, as the art of being in control of oneself, becomes a way for the hero of Jarmusch’s film to seize the authenticity of his life.





Physical description




Document Type

Publication order reference



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