7 Samurai

It’s not that I have nothing interesting to say (at least, interesting to me); it’s that I haven’t taken the time to write any of it down. Instead I share this note I passed among friends and family a couple of summers ago:

22 Aug 2003 14:04:30 -0400

Last night, the Vinegar Hill finished its summer-long Kurosawa/Mifune film festival with The Seven Samurai.

One of the difficulties of getting older — especially as information technology makes access to almost everything so much easier — is that my memories of books, movies, and television from childhood and adolescence are often better than my adult return to those same stories.

Even Yojimbo, which is still great for 36yo bk, was not as great for 36yo bk as it had been for 16yo bk, or even as great as it was for 24yo bk.

I am therefore happily caught off guard to report that the Seven Samurai matures with age. It is much richer than I remember, more disturbing than I remember (although Nathalie commented on what a light touch it had throughout) and overall a grown-up experience.

There were teenagers behind us in the theater last night who did not enjoy it half as much as I did 20 years ago, but the fact that they were rude enough that I can report on their reception of the film might tell you more about those individual teenagers than it tells us about how well the film would do for the 2003 equivalent of 16yo Brian and David.

Most remarkable to me was that the version we saw last night was 200 minutes — a “director’s cut” of the film that I may or may not have ever seen before — and I never once wanted to look at my watch. With so many Hollywood features getting longer and longer (which is the opposite of the trend from a decade or two ago) and with me finding it harder and harder to sit still for anything longer than 2 hours, I was very pleased that an almost-3-and-a-half hour film could keep me enthralled. With a dozen itchy wasp-stings, a throbbing arthritic hip, and various other physical discomforts that had been bothering me through the day, I was somewhat reluctant to attend the film. But during those 200 minutes, I was barely distracted by them.

I’ve seen Kurosawa films throughout the past 20 years, and only on this, my third viewing of Seven Samurai, do I realize that it is by far my favorite.

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2 Responses to 7 Samurai

  1. Wally Conger says:

    I just saw SWORD OF DOOM (1965) — new on DVD — and it’s the most intense samurai film I’ve EVER seen (and I’ve seen most of ’em). Mifune’s in it. Every samurai fan should check it out.

  2. Anonymous says:

    Yeah, Seven Samurai rules. Probably on the top ten list of best films ever made.

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