Seven Samurai

Seven Samurai ★★★½

This was surprisingly not my favorite Kurosawa. I don’t think he was ready to make an epic (compare it with Ran (1985)). Two of my favorite things in it were the opening credits and the score playing through the intermission, but the movie didn’t stand up to either of those grand embellishments (compare it to Rocco and His Brothers (1960), an epic that lived up to its bold opening credits). There were points in the film where I perked up due to the epic score only to realize that what was on the screen didn’t do the score justice; it was a mismatch.

At intermission I thought, Well I guess the second half is what makes it Letterboxd’s second highest rated film, but after the second half the first half was my clear favorite, while the second half was mostly just battle prep and battle (if that was my thing I’d just pop in Lord of the Rings (2001-03)).

But the movie’s main problem was probably going with seven samurai. You gotta either do less (like the great Three Outlaw Samurai (1964), for example) or do more with only a couple main dudes (like Kurosawa’s undersung The Men Who Tread on the Tiger’s Tail (1945)). Because even 207 minutes wasn’t enough for Kurosawa to develop seven samurai dudes. Toshiro Mifune went way over the top to stand out and others just didn’t. The ending was made less powerful by my forgetting who some of the samurai even were.

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