Sunday, November 15, 2009

Seven Samurai (1954) - part 1

Seven Samurai (Shinchinin no samurai) is the story of a farming village in 16th century Japan. Roaming bandits rule the landscape. When one farmer overhears bandits say they will plunder the village when their barley crop ripens, the community is thrown into despair.

After a long discussion, the decision is made to try and hire Samurai to defend the village. The problem is that all they have to pay them with is rice. They must find hungry Samurai. A motley band of seven arrive to a village of people who both desperately need and fear them.

Seven Samurai is a movie of great reputation. IMDB voters have ranked this foreign language film as the 15th greatest all time. Entertainment Weekly placed it twelfth. It is called the first modern action movie, with many of the cinematic elements either invented or refined here. The Magnificent Seven (1960) was based on it.

At first I was apprehensive to start this movie. It's over three hours long and I didn't know if I had the stamina. Imagine my surprise that not only did I totally get into the movie, but so did my 8 and 13 year old sons. This, a black and white movie with subtitles and surprisingly little action.

Now, imagine my frustration when the DVD flaked out on me at the end of chapter 10 (of 12) on disk one! On close inspection I found that the disk had been cleaned with what looks like find grit sandpaper. Disk two looked slightly better, but I wasn't going to play it without seeing the rest of disk one. I've tried it in the Playstation to see if I got better results, but no dice.

I've requested another copy from the library. I'll hold off giving it a rating, but as of now it's a 4, at least. Woonsocket Harris library, you're getting yours back!

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