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January 12, 2003

Seven Samurai

Posted by Mike on January 12, 2003 11:28 PM

Akira Kurosawa's 1954 precursor of everything from its obvious gunslinger retelling in The Magnificent Seven (1960) to The A Team, to the issues of the Marvel Star Wars comic that came immediately after the movie adaptation was complete (though I think they thought they were adapting The Magnificent Seven) is engrossing, detailed, and wonderful to watch.

(Part of the Seven Samurai Legacy, Green Rabbits and All)

Film students love it for its technique, I love it because it takes a good, long time to tell its story from beginning to end, developing things as much as they need, luxuriating in its deliberate pace. I love long movies, and at nearly 3.5 hours, Seven Samurai qualifies: 3.5 hours of being a very well-realized somewhere else.

Most people are fond of Toshiro Mifune's Kikuchiyo (for good reason... it's a great performance), but I think I most prefer Takashi Shimura's Kambei, the leader of the Samurai band.

The Criterion DVD is pretty good, but it's a real pity that better prints didn't exist to work from: as much as the movie still looks wonderful, there are problems with the prints in the form of scratches and distortions that are simply beyond repair. I'm looking forward to the commentary track, which has received high praise for its detail and insights into feudal Japan.