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Subject: 2012 Movie Challenge #5: The Seven Samurai rss

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Joe Gola
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Details about the challenge are here.

This is going to be a short entry, because, really, what else can you say?

Well, I do have one thing I want to say about it, and here it is: I can sort of understand people dragging their feet on watching The Seven Samurai, because when they hear "this is a really, really good movie" they interpret "good" as meaning good in the way that sit-ups are good, or eating lots of fiber, or putting money into a 401k for retirement. Like, you just have to grit your teeth and bear it, and then when it's all over you'll somehow be a better person for it.

Well, here's the thing: it's not good because it's like medicine, it's good because it's an extremely entertaining movie.

Regarding the length...well, I've seen lots of regular-length movies that had me restless and looking at my watch after the first half an hour. The Seven Samurai clocks in at three hours and forty-seven minutes (with intermission), but the time flies right by. I was lucky enough to once see a restored copy of the film on the big screen and it was an fantastic experience. It all went by in a flash.

If you're still on the fence, let's make a deal: just watch an hour—sixty minutes—and if you still don't like it, then we'll call it quits. Okay? That's not so hard, right? You could probably watch an hour of TV just by accident.

Anyway, if you're a fan of things that are awesome, you should do yourself a favor and watch this movie.

How did it hold up? Of course it held up, it's the Seven damn Samurai.

Netflixxable? Yes, for disc, no for streaming.

Dr. Mabuse der Spieler (1922)
M (1931)
Duck Soup (1933)
Black Narcissus (1947)
The Seven Samurai (1954)
The Nights of Cabiria (1957)
Psycho (1960)
La Dolce Vita (1960)
Yojimbo (1961)
Viridiana (1961)
The Exterminating Angel (1962)
Dr. Strangelove (1964)
Simon of the Desert (1965)
The Good, the Bad and the Ugly (1966)
The Conformist (1970)
The Shining (1980)
Blue Velvet (1986)
Miller's Crossing (1990)
Ed Wood (1994)
Boogie Nights (1997)
O Brother, Where Art Thou? (2000)
The Royal Tenenbaums (2001)
Spirited Away (2001)
No Country for Old Men (2007)

Bonus Features: TBD
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fightcitymayor
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Gola wrote:
Well, here's the thing: it's not good because it's like medicine, it's good because it's an extremely entertaining movie.
I am in total agreement.
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Geeky McGeekface
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Saw it in Film Study class when I was in high school and hated it. I couldn't get past what I viewed as gross overacting and what seemed like a simplistic plot. I've had no real desire to revisit the movie and probably never will. It's true I was all of 16 when I saw it and my tastes have certainly broadened since then. But there's a lot of "great cinema" that leaves me cold even today, so it's not clear this would be any different. Besides, I did watch the first half of Rashomon not that long ago and turned it off because I thought it was too slow. So maybe I just don't have refined film tastes.
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Andy Holt
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The normal English version of the title is "Seven Samurai", not "The Seven Samurai" (though, apparently, both are valid translations of the original Japanese).
Well worth watching.
then watch "The Magnificent Seven" and possibly
"Battle Beyond the Stars"

I have heard it said that there is also a Bollywood version but have never been able to track it down.
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Key Locks
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Don't know why, but I just wasn't impressed with this one when I watched it a few years ago. Maybe I watched the wrong version or something. I would be willing to give it another shot, but for now I really don't understand the hoopla.
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Rob
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andyholt wrote:
"Seven Samurai"
"The Magnificent Seven"
"Battle Beyond the Stars"


One of these things is not the like the others...
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Joe Gola
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Larry Levy wrote:
I couldn't get past what I viewed as gross overacting and what seemed like a simplistic plot.

I can see why you might say that; Toshiro Mifune's performance as Kikuchiyo is pretty exaggerated, even to the point of being clownish. Heck, he is a clown; he's always mugging and yelling and being goofy in general.

Part of it is the character itself, I think. Kikuchiyo is a man who seems to have never quite made it out of adolescence; he desperately wants approval and respect, but doesn't know how to get it, and he swaggers and boasts to hide an inner self that is easily stung and wounded. He has the appetites of a man but the self-control of a child. Such people are always louder than they should be, swinging their swords too widely, no? We might have a BGGer or two like that.

He is also a classic jester—a buffoon who can put people in their place with humor the moment they get a little too big for their britches.

And yet, even though Kikuchiyo is apparently the least of the samurai, Mifune has to play him "big" to draw attention to him because he is actually one of the three most important characters in the film. You could even go so far as to say that he is the pivotal character, because he is neither samurai nor farmer and so serves as a mediator between the two sides.

He is also one of the most interesting characters, because even though he is, as I said, the least of the samurai, in some ways he is also the greatest. The "real" samurai laugh at his ignorance, until they realize that he is smarter than he seems, and his role of outsider gives him a perspective that they sorely lack. He has none of their control and skill, and yet he is by far the fiercest warrior among them. They kill because it is their job; he kills because it is right.

The other two most important characters are of course the leader Kanbe and the real adolescent, Katsushiro. Between the three of them there is a kind of father-good son-bad son relationship, and the comparisons and contrasts within this trio are among the most interesting elements of the movie. Only one of the two "sons" becomes a real samurai...but at what price?

But perhaps you got all that—it is a pretty simplistic movie, after all.
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Greg Austin
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Fantastic movie, but it's been far too long since I watched it. It's hard to decide between watching it again or keeping on with trying to watch Kurosawa's other films.
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Brian Bankler
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One thing I've always wondered -- In many (all) of the samurai movies I've seen him in, Mifune is always scratching or rubbing his shoulders or arms or neck. I don't remember if he does this in 7Sam or mainly in Yojimbo and some others. I don't know why he does this. Is he portraying the character is dirty, low class, or was he just itchy and didn't care if he was on camera or not?

It was so striking because I can't think of another actor or character who seemed so human on screen, because he had an itch. (I think any other movie that had it, it was a plot point for impending disease or something).

Ideas?
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I think Dersu Uzala is a nifty film too.
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Joe Gola
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Bankler wrote:
One thing I've always wondered -- In many (all) of the samurai movies I've seen him in, Mifune is always scratching or rubbing his shoulders or arms or neck. I don't remember if he does this in 7Sam or mainly in Yojimbo and some others. I don't know why he does this. Is he portraying the character is dirty, low class, or was he just itchy and didn't care if he was on camera or not?

It was so striking because I can't think of another actor or character who seemed so human on screen, because he had an itch. (I think any other movie that had it, it was a plot point for impending disease or something).

Ideas?

He does this a lot in Yojimbo and the sequel Sanjuro—so much so that I think it was a conscious choice about that character and not the actual Toshiro Mifune being itchy. I thought maybe the implication was that he was down on his luck and so had body lice. But of course the un-self-conscious behavior really fits the character, who doesn't care much about social niceties and who adopts an air of nonchalance to hide his cunning.

Warren dM wrote:
I think Dersu Uzala is a nifty film too.

Me too!
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Mark Delano
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Gola wrote:
He does this a lot in Yojimbo and the sequel Sanjuro—so much so that I think it was a conscious choice about that character and not the actual Toshiro Mifune being itchy. I thought maybe the implication was that he was down on his luck and so had body lice. But of course the un-self-conscious behavior really fits the character, who doesn't care much about social niceties and who adopts an air of nonchalance to hide his cunning.


I'm trying to think back to Mifune non-samurai roles and the only one I can picture clearly in my mind is Drunken Angel. Even then I don't remember if he was particularly itchy.
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Jeff Jones
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frunkee wrote:
Gola wrote:
He does this a lot in Yojimbo and the sequel Sanjuro—so much so that I think it was a conscious choice about that character and not the actual Toshiro Mifune being itchy. I thought maybe the implication was that he was down on his luck and so had body lice. But of course the un-self-conscious behavior really fits the character, who doesn't care much about social niceties and who adopts an air of nonchalance to hide his cunning.


I'm trying to think back to Mifune non-samurai roles and the only one I can picture clearly in my mind is Drunken Angel. Even then I don't remember if he was particularly itchy.


The older Mifune certainly does nothing of the sort in the brilliant High and Low in which he plays a sophisticated and wealthy businessman with an unbearable decision to make. It's one of Kurosawa's non-samurai films and, I think, one of his three best. Mifune is wonderful in this one.

Gola.... I am really looking forward to your next entry in this series. Nights of Cabiria is one of my favorite films ever and Giulietta one of my favorite characters. Can't wait to see what you have to say about it.

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