Seven Samurai

Seven Samurai ★★★★★

Amazing of course, largely because of the sheer beauty of the compositions and the incredible way that the final act is a masterclass in perfectly clear storytelling at the same time that it places you knee deep in the mud and in the middle of swirling tides of fighting and dying people.

I got the impression that you could freeze frame at every single point of that final act and be presented with a perfectly composed iconic image. Yet i've never watched a movie that spent so long, such a large percentage of a very long run time with rain or mud or running water or smoke moving around the background. Again and again Kurosawa would use such things to close off and frame the image, to force you to focus where he wanted you to focus and I genuinely dont understand just how he managed the seemingly paradoxical mix of chaos and clarity.

I also dont really understand how a three and a half hour movie with such broad, limited and at times problematic characterisation keeps you interested and caring so much. But of course it does. Mifune is charismatic and brings a real class consciousness to the story but is also at his very broadest and it was left to Takashi Shimura to really hold my attention. Well he and the nameless farmers who are, that paradox again, shown to be crude and animalistic compared to the samurai but are also genuinely the heart of the story. The film at once celebrates the ability and grace of the samurai but stands firmly on the side of the farmer and is honest about how the feudal samurai system brutalises him.

A beautiful, brutal, dynamic film that makes you feel the physicality of it's setting and violence like no other. God that rain and mud will live with me.

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