Skip to main content

Movie Stuff: Akira Kurosawa Films and Influenced Films


Last week was Akira Kurosawa week at my place. I have a deep-seated love of everything Japanese. About two years ago, I watched The Seven Samurai, which was one of the BEST movies I have ever seen, hands down. I had heard so much about this movie in pop culture but was never sure what all the fuss was about. It took me several days to get through the film, but it was heavy with meaning. It made think about what is a hero? And what is the cost of being a hero? In the Seven Samurai, poor farmers seek out the help of seven samurai to fight off bandits. The bandits regularly stop by and steal the crops they all slaved to grow. The townspeople know they need help.

They find these samurai superheroes that can kick butt, but most of them also have lovable personalities that make you want to take them home and keep them as a pet. I especially liked the leader of band (played by the amazing Takashi Shimura) and the comic character, Kikuchiyo (Toshiro Mifune). As the town learn how to fight and defend their homes, the whole community changes from a sniveling, helpless bunch into fearsome warriors proud of their heritage. It is amazing how the samurai and the townspeople come together. You can also see that the samurai long for some of the things that the townsmen have: wives, kids, and a home.


There are so many wonderful moments, and you will be surprised at what happens at the end. For a hint, just ask yourself this question: When a hero who is a loner risks everything to help the weak and helpless, what reward does he receive at the end? Of course, what did he really risk if he owns nothing? Also, why would a loner who has no money or possessions of his own do this for a group of people that could pay them next to nothing? The movie is an action movie, but it has all the emotional depth of an epic. You can see that although I watched this film years ago, it still haunts me.

Okay, fast forward to last week. I watched Rashomon, another Kurosawa film, and The Magnificent Seven, a Western rendering of the same story. Neither was as impressive as the masterpiece mentioned above, but they both had their merits.

Rashomon is a story told in multiple perspectives. A bandit, a samurai, his wife, and a woodcutter passing by all tell their own versions of a story where we know two facts: the samurai was killed and the bandit and the woman had intercourse. But everyone has their own version of the truth. Who is telling the truth? There was a more contemporary movie called Hero where they used the same story-telling strategy. Rashomon is interesting, but I got tired of watching the people stare at each other in horror. Every action took so long to happen. There was this one scene where the bandit and samurai are fighting and it just . . . takes . . . so . . . long. Still it’s a classic Japanese film.

The Magnificent Seven had wonderful acting performances, a catchy musical score, and gads of funny lines. But the whole did not amount to more than its parts. I did, however, enjoy the trailer: “Seven, seven, sevennnnnn. The magnificent sevennnnn.”

Comments

Popular posts from this blog

Border (2018): A Dark Swedish Fairy Tale

Have you ever felt like you are alone? Like you exist and move around in a community of people that you are nothing like?

Imagine how Tina feels. She works as a highly competent border guard for the sole reason that her sense of smell is extrasensory. She can smell fear, shame, and any negative emotion on people as they cross through her security area, and she is never wrong about her suspicions. Her work career, however, might be the only thing she has going for her.

She lives on the outskirts of town with a boyfriend that owns a pack of dogs, and from all counts, they live together in a loveless domestic arrangement that is hard to imagine either of them conceiving. Things become a little clearer later as we learn that Tina owns the home and the boyfriend is enjoying the luxury of living rent free. Tina appears to have no family except for the man she calls father, who claims to have adopted her.

Tina is unattractive by human standards and is most often seen staring attentively and …

Movie Review: Gone Girl (2014) and Lessons About Marriage

Gone Girl is a book-to-movie project that only took 2 years to complete, compared to most movie projects, which take an average of four years (Maze Runner, Twilight, and Hunger Games are all examples of this). Once I heard the movie was being released, I re-read the book in anticipation of the movie release. I have to say, the book was outstanding. I work at a library, and many people were checking out this book. Sometimes I am slow to pick up a hot book, just because I can be stubborn. The book took a genre like suspense, and took it to the new level. The book changes viewpoints and storytelling strategies so many times, and just as you think you have finally predicted the ending, it ends in a way that no one could possibly expect.

Only recently did I find a book that compares called The Farm by Tom Rob Smith, released two years after Gone Girl. Suffice it to say, I am not often enamored with adult fiction. Gone Girl is truly special.

I went into the movie with high hopes, but also r…

The Tradition of the Annual Debbie Macomber Christmas Book

My tradition of reading the annual Debbie Macomber Christmas romance novel started like any tradition does -- by my doing something one time, enjoying, and repeating the experience each year. Before you know it, the repeated action becomes a tradition, and you can't imagine life without it. I don't read any other Macomber novels, but I do read her Christmas books. I normally finish them on the 90 minute flight home.

If you aren't familiar with Macomber's line of Christmas books, let's just say they are similar to a Hallmark movie experience. There is always a smart, savvy female who is stubborn and a rugged curmudgeonly man, often the type that would reside in isolation, in Alaska, for instance. He is normally wealthy, and she normally has a career and feels torn by her feelings. The two fight their attraction but, by the end, they just can't help themselves and fall in love. 
I believe my first Debbie Macomber Christmas book was her 2003 The Snow Bride. Just …