Saturday, November 28, 2009

Seven Samurai (1954) - part 2

The new copy came in an I watched the last of disk one and about half an hour of disk 2. Daily life disallowed me to watch the last hour and change until last night.

So, we take up the story of a village under oppression. Their crops were robbed by bandits, and when they return, they realize the village has nothing. So they decide to return when the barley ripens. A villager hears this and know that if this crop is taken, they are doomed. Give up the crop without a fight and beg the bandits to leave them something?

No, says grandpa. Hire Samurai to defend the village. It is a tall order to find Samurai to fight for nothing more than rice. In all seven agree. One is young and untested. One's Samurai credentials are in question. Others are not great warriors but posses other skills. They fortify the village and train the farmers.

There are a few side stories. The villagers fear the Samurai. One forces his daughter to dress as a boy. Another villager has a secret. Some of the houses are outside the protection perimeter and that causes concern. Add to it the idea of Ronin staying loyal not to a lord, but to a noble cause, and the Samurai who isn't a Samurai. All of this works together.

Partly the way I watched the film, I could readily identify with only four of the seven. The leader was distinct, being older and having cut his hair early in the film. The young Katsushiro was timid and unsure. Kikochiyo moved unlike the others. You did not have to see his face to know who which one he was. Unlikable at first, he becomes very endearing. The others kinda blended in. A second, uninterrupted viewing would be in order.

A few things to mention. For a movie with such a high body count, there was no gore. The Samurai slices his sword near an opponent and the cut is implied. I didn't feel it was missing. A three and (almost) a half hour movie is quite daunting, but it didn't drag. The pacing was perfect.
There are many elements in this movie. Action fight scenes, a love story, a noble cause, youth proving one's self, and it's all done expertly. Maybe technically perfect. Far be it for me to make such a declaration, but put this much stuff into a 207 minute, subtitled, black and white film, and if you get an eight year old video game junkie glued to the screen, and you have something special. I returned the disks two days late at $2 a day. It was worth it.

AMRU 4.5. Now maybe I can get the boys to watch Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon.

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