Seven Samurai

Seven Samurai ★★★★★

This baby is me.

I know I've mentioned it on here as of late, but I'll make an official, full statement here: Tomorrow, I'm starting grad school, a doctoral program in Clinical Psychology. I would tell you I'm excited and that I can't wait to start. I am "looking forward" to it, but my base emotion towards it would not be excitement. I'm absolutely terrified. I'm so overwhelmed already with it, and I know that when it starts, my time management and life in general is going to be very different. Worth noting in relation to that, today was a "last hurrah" of me for sorts. At least for the time being until I have a better grasp on how much day to day free time I am actually going to have, starting tomorrow, I'm reverting back to my old days of early college where I just watch a movie a day. At the very least, rain or shine, I will watch one thing a day. If a day goes by and I haven't logged something, even just a minute long short if I need to, I am either dead or something is very wrong. You can quote me on that. Movies are my lifeblood. This isn't just a hobby to me, they mean the world to me, I cherish "cinema" as if it were a close friend. Like how much my other loved ones mean to me, my friend "cinema" I refuse to abandon, as I know that at the lowest points since I've joined Letterboxd, when nothing else has worked, a good movie could aid me. Speaking of good movies, let's talk about the one that I very deliberately picked to be my final film before leaping into graduate school. I think I can safely say that not rating Seven Samurai five stars on my first viewing is worth slapping me across the back of the head. On the other hand, I looked back and realized that I only saw this for the first time just two years ago, so maybe it's more offensive that I didn't know this movie since I came out of the womb. On the other other hand, I have three hands in this long tangent, why not, at least my rating's now where it should be. I'd have to look back at my list of favorites to think if this is my "favorite" samurai film, and if it isn't, I mean, Seven Samurai really is just the best. The masterwork of a director who made masterworks look as easy as bending over to let out a gust of wind. We wouldn't have "spaghetti westerns" without Yojimbo, we wouldn't have the greatest procedurals without Rashomon, but if it weren't for silent film stars like Buster Keaton, Charlie Chaplin, Harold Lloyd, and then Seven Samurai, we wouldn't have action cinema at all as we know it today. It cannot be overstated how immense but lived in and so very human Seven Samurai is. This is a sad movie, I truly lost track of how many times people, the farmers and the samurai equally, weep and wail in mud and as rain pours down on them. It's a movie that's never boring, and there are moments you can call "exciting," yet there are effectively zero moments to me that I think are "cool" or traditionally "noble." Violent conflict is a scenario in which there are no concrete winners, just people who suffer and people who suffer worse. A day is saved, the folks who are alive get to live on, but who and what will speak for the dead with the volume they deserve? The tragedy and the occasional "excitement" of the film comes through the most in one man, you know him well: Toshiro Mifune. I loved him so much when I watched him in this for the first time, but man. Now, I think his performance has been elevated into the upper echelon of acting in movies for me. No, I'm not just saying this because he's a man who yells a lot. Even if I were to be that reductive with his work in this, then next to no one in cinema yells with as much fury and tearful sorrow as Mifune does here. He's a grown man with the soul of a wounded child, a sword in his hand not by any concrete choice he'd wish on anyone. He hates everyone around him, but he fights because what is he supposed to do with all of his troubles otherwise? That's what you do, no matter what. You fight, in some way that hopefully isn't just bloodshed. You don't fight with your fists or a blade, you fight with and from the soul. If life is just conflict after conflict, put your fists up and move forward. If you're knocked down, maybe even forever, if you at least stood up, you were never alone, and you're never going to be taken for granted. A monument exists for your struggle, because your struggle was ours too. All of us. I'm terrified, I'm overwhelmed, but I'll struggle and fight how I can. I know I'm not alone. We're here together. I'm grateful to have had this final day consist of two new viewings that I liked a lot, and a rewatch that I think couldn't have gone any better. Akira, you helped me take a deep breath. Here we now go, into something new, and hopefully something fantastic.


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