Seven Samurai

Seven Samurai ★★★½

I don't think I'll ever be able to truly understand the extent to which this was revolutionary and impactful, but I get the sense most of its innovation has to do with structure. This follows a blockbuster formula of sorts, with the mix of characters, light and breezy comic relief, weighty though amusing action, and a getting-the-gang-together plot. (Correct me if I'm wrong please, but) I'm guessing this was essential in inventing, or at least standardizing that blockbuster formula. Unfortunately, that skeleton doesn't just render this fairly regular, but-- like with all blockbusters-- is often reductive. The samurai all have a sense of humor, and not a very good one as far as I'm concerned, but this spends its first 90 minutes punctuating most of its scenes with one ronin cracking a joke and the rest of them howling in laughter. It's not funny, but it proves useful in demonstrating the samurai's apathy pointed out in Mifune's heart wrenching speech about the relationship between samurai and farmers. The impact of that moment is then contradicted when the jokes continue. Even Mifune himself continues to act like the foolish comic relief character, and it retrogresses all the humanity developed of that moment. This isn't nearly human enough or exciting enough for me to look past the fact that I've already seen this movie hundreds of times (even if its imitators are far worse). What is impressive here is just how spectacular this looks for being 65 years old. Kurosawa was decades ahead of his time.

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