Monday, 1 March 2010
DVD: SEVEN SAMURAI (1954, BFI)
And, yes, it is as good as it's supposed to be. Despite being over three hours long and watching it over two days, I never felt it dragged. It isn't a barrel of laughs though there are a few along the way -Toshiro Mifune's (see image) manic performance being one of them. Unlike its western remake The Magnificent Seven, it's neither an elegy nor a romantic tribute, rather it's the opposite. The samurai are ronin, not shiny knights in their lord's bright armour, but on their own trying to make a living wherever they can. All are well characterised and different from each other, though not quite the archetypes of TMS. Each has their own reason for helping the farmers against the bandits. While there is action and plenty of it, this is also a very thoughtful film about roles and responsibilities which questions the values of the time, not just of the period but of when it was made.
I'm really glad I bought it. I'm going to make Red Beard my next Kurosawa to watch, prior to Ran, and will probably pick up Yojimbo, another movie later turned into a Western. All being well over 2 hours each I won't be watching them consecutively, however.