Sophocles is credited with inventing the third actor in Greek plays. Presumably, playwrights had the chorus and two actors slagging each other off before then.
Kurosawa always arranged tension in his films in groups of three actors - look carefully; they’re choreographed.
In modern psychobabble, it is said that in a group of three people, there is always a victim, a persecutor and a saviour. To make it more plausible, it is also stated that roles can be interchanged.
Take away the third person and the tension collapses like a three-legged stool with one missing.
Keep that person there and the public is sold.
I’ve been meaning to show in colour some of the images I took when I covered a Sophocles play recently. I couldn’t resist a sad, contrasty look because Sophocles isn’t comedy. The day we get Aristophanes, I’m gaudy. (Or maybe not. It depends on the play…)
But the thing that hit me in the face from the beginning is the arrangement of threes and here, the director got it.