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Akira Kurosawa: The '50s

Scandal

Rashomon

The Idiot

Ikiru

Seven Samurai (July 31/08)

There's little doubt that Seven Samurai suffers from an absurdly overlong running time that often threatens to negate its more overtly positive attributes, as screenwriters Akira Kurosawa, Shinobu Hashimoto, and Hideo Oguni have ungainly foisted an epic framework onto an admittedly slight story. The movie, which follows several samurai warriors as they come together to save a small village from blood-thirsty bandits, consequently suffers from an almost unbearably uneven quality that pervades from start to finish, although it's certainly impossible to entirely discount the effectiveness of Kurosawa's masterful directorial choices and the almost uniformly memorable performances (Takashi Shimura, as the reluctant leader of the fighters, is particularly good here). There's little doubt that Seven Samurai's almost brutally monotonous midsection proves to be its most problematic stretch, as Kurosawa spends an egregious amount of time dwelling on the title characters' preparations for the inevitable conflict. It goes without saying that one's ability to muster up enthusiasm for the ensuing battles is somewhat diminished as a result, yet there's admittedly no denying the effectiveness of the climactic (and rain-soaked) confrontation between the surviving heroes and villains. And while the film's contribution to the action genre remains as clear as ever - ie it's not a stretch to call this the template for the majority of similarly-themed efforts that have followed over the years - Seven Samurai is ultimately unable to live up to its reputation as a flawlessly conceived and executed piece of work.

out of

I Live in Fear

Throne of Blood

The Lower Depths

The Hidden Fortress

© David Nusair