Tuesday, October 11, 2011

Eastern Stamina

Opening with a band of pillaging bandits in search of a nice looking village to pay a visit to, Seven Samurai tells the story of starving farmers who are on a mission to protect their home from invasion. After being informed of the bandit’s plans to return to the village when the crops are harvested, the people call a meeting to devise a plan. Deserting their home, mass suicide and retaliation are all considered but when the village elder, Granddad, suggests hiring a samurai everybody listens. The only problem is that the poor farmers can only offer bowls of rice as pay. They search the city and find a band of samurais who agree to fight for food. The movie spends an hour completely to this introduction and even more time is devoted to the preparation of the village and its inhabitants. Though the story moves seemingly slow at times, it never seems to drag. Stretching to a run time of over 3 hours, the film very smoothly takes its time to delve into back stories of the individual samurais and all of their characteristics. Some might say that this film is extremely long and tedious to endure. But if you take into account that every Academy Award winning movie for best film since 1974 has been over 3 hours long. Obviously a long run time, though it might be intruding on our attention span, might have something to do with a well told story. The increasing amount of fast paced life with smart phones, social networking and thrilling action movies that neatly fit into an hour and a half time slot have all done their part to shorten our attention spans. In a short essay, Kenneth Turan discusses the importance of the length that is involved with Seven Samurai. He explains that “Seven Samurai unrolls naturally and pleasurably, like a beautiful scroll or valuable rug.” It also keeps the story line in check; the film takes place over an entire agricultural year. There is time for plants to fields to fully mature and also for the samurai leader’s hair to grow back from his impersonation as a priest at the beginning of the movie. “Kurosawa proceeds like a master chef, allowing his ingredients to simmer and become tastier, tastier and tastier still.”


  1. I KNEW I was not the only one who tripped out on how the samurai leader's hair grew back!

  2. That's one of my favorite parts, as well :-)

    Great post, Doug!