Seven Samurai

Seven Samurai ★★★★

The authenticity of the world Kurosawa creates - the customs, rituals, the precisely arranged costumes and hair pieces, the landscape of the village and Japan beyond it - is nothing short of exemplary, and the kind of thing sorely missing in the various remakes and reimaginings of the source material in the west (is there ever any doubt The Magnificent Seven is shot on a gigantic Hollywood backlot?) The fact it takes over an hour to actually round up the seven samurai is part of this - in any remake it will clearly be done in montage form, probably inside twenty minutes, thus completely removing the cultural tradition and character conflict, while also significantly reducing the complexity of the class-politics. There's also a wealth of incredibly poignant cinematic imagery, and deft staging that works in tandem with the movement and positioning of the camera.

I'm not totally in love with it though, and on a repeat viewing I've knocked it down half a point. I think Kurosawa did better, and SS's legacy on western filmmaking and establishment of various tropes is perhaps where the added worth comes from. Even when working in such a theatrical, emblematic framework I think the melodrama is too much at times, and I've never been the most appreciative of the Japanese theatrical acting style of the era (although with Kurosawa it's far from unwatchable, and here it allows for a number of good laughs). It’s not a film I especially enjoy watching, it’s more of a technical/legacy based thing; I like many of Kurosawa’s films far more.

It's all about Ran, man.

Will liked this review