Thursday, October 25, 2007

Thoughts on Seeing Seven Samurai Again

I watched the Kurosawa film Seven Samurai these past two nights with my sister. I still have no idea how she could've been my sister and not been subjected to this 3-hour film by me (exactly 3 hours and 23 minutes, and with intermission it's closer to 3 1/2 hours). People sometimes exaggerate in these matters, but I can fairly accurately estimate that I watched the film, from beginning to end, possibly 15 times in the last 35 years. (I regret to admit that I've read Moby Dick only once.)

Again I was enthralled by Kurosawa's boldness and genius. Once again I wept at certain scenes - Watanabe's learning how the farmers had been eating millet instead of rice, Kikuchiyo's showing off of the samurai armor, the bloody and wet penultimate scene, which shows the merciless cruelty of war more effectively than any other film. In fact, Kurosawa's film once again demonstrated how ridicuously lacking are American films of any comparable depth and gravity. The John Sturges Western remake, The Magnificent Seven is stupid and stolid next to the original. In fact, it exists, as Vernon Young once put it, in another world - one divorced from art and even intelligence.

So, what did my sister think of the experience? I believe in her heart of hearts she saw the greatness of it. But she would probably never admit it to me.

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