Tuesday, June 19, 2007

Seven Samurai

Truth be told, we cheated on our film festival last night. I had a meeting at church and Joy had some Kindermusik business to finish up. So we didn't start Seven Samurai until 9:00

The movie lasts 3 1/2 hours.

We have a 20-month-old.

We stopped at intermission and finished it up during Sam's nap this afternoon.

I wasn't quite sure what to expect. We watched Rashomon a few years ago, and while I admired Kurosawa's technique and found the concept of shifting perspectives intriguing, I wasn't fully engaged with the movie.

Seven Samurai was the opposite experience for me. The film moves at a leisurely pace; you could tell the plot in half the time (and Hollywood did in 1960 with The Magnificent Seven), but in doing so you would lose the story. The characters are archetypes we all recognize - both Joy and I remarked on how universal the wise old leader, the naive young idealist falling in love, and the hotshot whose swagger hides ingrained pain are. But despite the familiarity we have with these characters through countless Hollywood imitations, Kurosawa draws them with full brush strokes. You spend the movie's first half coming to know the samurai and the farmers they are hired to protect so that by the second half's battles, you grieve with the survivors. Seven Samurai is an action movie and Kurosawa's one of the best I've seen at making clear visual sense of multiple layers of action, but it is also a drama of great sensitivity, exploring class division in 16th century Japan and dealing with themes of loneliness and belonging. All in all an engrossing movie, one that even my wife enjoyed.

Onward to Chinatown.

1 comment:

katre said...

Seven Samurai has always been one of my favorite movies, probably because of the depth of the story. You're exactly right: you could speed up the plot, but you'd lose so many other aspects of a great story, the characters, the setting, the mood. I'm glad you enjoyed it!