We kicked our film discussions off again with our largest discussion group yet, which is exciting! We discussed Akira Kurosawa's 1954 classic film, Seven Samurai, and it was one of my favorite discussions so far. We tackled the role of a period film, Kurosawa's use of the samurai and their place among the farmers, the worth of sacrifice, and much more. Check out the video for more, and let us know what you think.
Below are the show notes. And for those of you who have followed along with the series, Spielberg apparently watches this film along with Lawrence of Arabia, It's a Wonderful LIfe, and The Searchers before every film he makes, so we're halfway there!
1. "Seven Samurai" in The Films of Akira Kurasawa by Donald Richie
Kurosawa had long wanted to make a real jidai-geki, a real period-film…”real” because they do not stop at simple historical reconstruction, inhabited by stock figures (which is true of costume-pictures all over the world), but insist upon the validity of the past, and the continuing meaning of the historical. p.97
All a man can do, he seems to say, is to do his best. If he does his best for himself that is one thing; but it is better to do your best for others: even if the task is dangerous and without reward; even if (as here) it is absurd...Something has been accomplished, and if it is meaningless then that is small concern of ours. This is heroism, and of a kind that particularly appeals to Kurosawa. It is stoic, hopeless in the strongest possible sense, and generous. p.100
2. "A Tribute from Sidney Lumet" in the Criterion Collection Bluray
Dust. Wind. Rain. Fire. The basic elements of nature are present in every Kurosawa film. I’ve always felt that the natural forces in his films are almost mocking the efforts of the human beings, which range from trying to scratch a living from the earth to holding on to a castle. Does this make his films pessimistic? Not for me. The whole point seems to me to be that it is the effort that defines nobility of behavior. It is the aspiration persisting against impossible odds that reveals human nature at its best.