Akira Kurosawa infoSeven Samurai: Kurosawa’s Citizen Kane? – Akira Kurosawa info http://akirakurosawa.info/forums/topic/seven-samurai-kurosawas-citizen-kane/feed/ Tue, 14 Aug 2018 22:52:17 +0000 http://bbpress.org/?v=2.5.14-6684 en-US http://akirakurosawa.info/forums/topic/seven-samurai-kurosawas-citizen-kane/#post-2657 <![CDATA[Seven Samurai: Kurosawa’s Citizen Kane?]]> http://akirakurosawa.info/forums/topic/seven-samurai-kurosawas-citizen-kane/#post-2657 Mon, 12 Jan 2009 17:47:17 +0000 Vili Maunula With more than a third of January gone and not a single post on Seven Samurai, our this month’s Film Club feature here on the forums, I am wondering what the reason for the continuing silence might be. The film was specifically requested to kick start the new year, so I was expecting an avalanche of posts. Yet, it is eerily quiet here.

It may well be the fact that with the start of a new year there are more pressing matters to attend to than a small discussion forum at the outskirts of the cyberspace – in fact, I am quite certain that this is a part of the reason. But let me nevertheless offer another reason, this one from purely personal experience, and one that may prove to be controversial enough to get the discussion rolling.

The reason for the silence, I propose, is this: Seven Samurai is not a very good film, and there is very little interesting to actually say about it. In fact, I would go as far as to agree with Noël Burch, who wrote that Seven Samurai is only “the finest of Kurosawa’s minor jidai-geki”. Slightly better than The Hidden Fortress, yes, but nowhere near the top of Kurosawa’s overall oeuvre, or even the best within its own genre.

There, I said it.

Of course, I wouldn’t be me if I didn’t qualify everything with lengthy explanations. So, read on.

The fact that Seven Samurai is, in my view, not quite the masterpiece that it has often been claimed to be, is not a new realisation for me. However, I nevertheless remembered it as quite an entertaining film, and was therefore shocked to notice that I really struggled to sit through the movie while watching it again for this month’s Film Club. It simply felt… well, boring, to be honest. Especially the first half.

In my perverted way of approaching things, this actually made me all the more curious about the film. After all, I was clearly now missing something somewhere, considering the film’s enormous popularity. I was therefore really looking forward to reading your takes on the work and it being pointed out to me what it was that I had missed, and why Seven Samurai was, if not Kurosawa’s finest film, at least a solid piece of film making. While waiting for your insights, I also delved into the related literature, and read through what others have had to say about the movie.

The result has, so far, been somewhat unexpected. Not only have you guys, for whatever reason, been unable to provide me with interesting points to consider about the film, but after going through the literature, I came out with practically nothing that would have made the film more interesting to me. This is rare, as usually the critics make at least a few points (usually more) that I had previously not considered, and which give me interesting new angles from which to approach the work.

Yet, there is very little to help me in there. Richie may lavish high praise on the movie (perhaps in doing so initiating the Seven Samurai cult), but there seems to be very little actual content in his essay. Perhaps most interestingly, he briefly comments on the class distinctions, which is something that also Prince talks about in length, yet in my view the film fails to put forward anything especially interesting concerning the topic. While there certainly is a clear distinction between the samurai and the farmers, which is made more complex by a character (Kikuchiyo) belonging to both, a love affair between members of each, and the fact that the existence of one group is pretty much the reason for the hardships of the other, the film in my view ultimately neither answers nor even properly poses any questions related to the class differences between the guardians and the guarded. It is true that we are shown that at times of distress the class distinctions can begin to break down at least a little, but then again that at least to me is not much of an insight. Neither is it a social problematisation of the calibre found in most other Kurosawa films.

Joan Mellen, meanwhile, offers a solid but ultimately somewhat bland look at the historical and technical aspects of Seven Samurai, drawing especially many parallels with Eisenstein’s work and theory. While perhaps interesting on a technical level, I feel that her descriptive (as opposed to argumentative or interpretative) commentary ends up telling me very little about the film as a narrative or a philosophical project (which are my main interests), and far more so about its technical brilliance which while interesting, doesn’t really contribute much to the actual viewing or interpreting experience (more about this later).

Finally, with Goodwin practically silent about Seven Samurai, perhaps the most interesting chapter devoted on the film can be found in Yoshimoto, but this is mainly because he ends up saying very little about the film itself and mainly talks about the jidaigeki genre as a whole. Towards the end of his treatment, Yoshimoto does offer something of an insight about Seven Samurai’s realism, noting that it is not of a historical kind, but instead “the film creates a heightened sense of realism by meticulously showing all kinds of details that are normally ignored in conventional jidaigeki films”. (243)

That this should be the most interesting thing that I have read about the film perhaps says something about the relative lack of insights that our typically sharp commentators have had concerning the movie. Granted, I have not read everything that has been written on the subject matter – perhaps most importantly I have yet to read Desser’s much-quoted The Samurai Films of Akira Kurosawa (which I don’t have), and neither have I sat through the commentary tracks on Criterion’s new Seven Samurai release. But in the end, the film does not really speak all that much to me, and it also seems that there is relatively little that other commentators have been able to get out of it, either.

That is, unless you consider the film’s technical aspects. Indeed, much of the more inspired commentary in the literature is focused on the film’s technical merits and its (perceived) symbolism. But while there are, no doubt, numerous interesting points to be made there there, I personally feel that when it comes down to the actual end product, much of these are trickery without much noticeable positive impact on the story telling. In fact, on the contrary many of these technical innovations, including the use of slow motion or many of the camera angles and movements, end up distracting me quite considerably.

I would actually make a similar case about the music. However excellent the pieces on the soundtrack are, the music is fairly distracting to me, not least because of the strange overuse of it that accompanies the movie.

All this is not to say that there isn’t a story in here. In fact, there are plenty of interesting story elements that we are presented with, but I feel that they are not put together too well. Things like Kikuchiyo’s past, Katsushiro’s romance and Rikichi’s lost wife are each potentially fascinating sub plots, but they all remain very skeletal, with no meat on their bones, well introduced but poorly executed. The film seems to be in a constant rush and yet gives us very little. And while there appears to be too much material for a three and a half hour feature, I would still argue that ten years later Kurosawa’s Red Beard actually condenses far more story (and certainly massively more intellectual content) into a twenty minutes shorter running time. Of course, at that point Kurosawa is also ten years more experienced as a director, but I don’t see that as in any ways promoting the quality of Seven Samurai.

There is actually a similarly harsh point to be made about the main plotline concerning the bandits’ attack. Were I a bandit leader looking for farmers to take from, the village after the samurai’s defensive fortifications would be just about the last place for me to attack. There must be easier targets in the area, so why be stubborn and attack this village?

Actually, the film hints at something of a satisfactory answer to why the bandits attack – and repeatedly so – even after knowing that this previously helpless town is now a relatively strong fortification. After all, the initial aggressors in the film are strictly speaking the samurai, who attack and burn down the bandits’ place — call it a pre-emptive strike, if you will. This perhaps also explains why the bandits rather mindlessly seem to burn down the huts on the unguarded side of the river – they are at that point no more motivated by financial gain, but simply by revenge.

And yet, this interpretation is never actually developed in the movie, or even explicitly stated. At least on the surface of things, the confrontation remains a purely black and white affair between the samurai and the bandits, with the townspeople helplessly somewhere in between.

Of course, it may alternatively also be Kurosawa’s own views about the lowlifes of this world, gangsters and bandits, which causes this slight narrative problem. It would, after all, not be the first or the last time that Kurosawa portrayed these people as little more than single-minded automatons with no respect either for others or for their own well being. But while in many other films this does not become a problem, it seems to me like one here.

And it is not just the bandits who are near automatons, but the characters throughout function like underdeveloped caricatures. While, in terms of acting, most performances are even then surprisingly good, the character of Kikuchiyo as portrayed by Toshiro Mifune is a major problem for me. He, like the farmers, is far too much of a caricature, way too over-the-top, and easily too simplistic for me to take him seriously. More disturbingly, whatever illusion of realism the other samurai may be able to convey, once Kikuchiyo enters the screen I am forcibly pulled away from the film, becoming acutely and painfully aware of myself watching an artificial reproduction of something, an effect that I have previously noted as something that, in most cases, is for me the number one failure one can make as a film maker (there are exceptions to this, of course).

I love Kurosawa’s movies for many reasons, but if I were asked to briefly sum up the basic reason for my fascination towards his works, it would be the fact that his films are almost always both highly entertaining as well as intellectually stimulating – something that, in my opinion, very few other directors have been capable of doing. Yet, Seven Samurai, I fear, is neither entertaining nor intellectually stimulating. It seems to have very little content that would actually make me think or reflect on the world or myself in a new way, and at the same time I cannot say that I find it all that entertaining, either. Instead, I feel that the film is somewhat half-baked in its execution, with many interesting narrative ideas that have far from perfect realisations on the screen.

In the end, Seven Samurai to me is something like Kurosawa’s Citizen Kane. These two films may have been and continue to be highly influential and technically innovative, but I end up failing to really connect with either one, even after repeated viewings. I see that there is much form in them, but feel that the form holds together quite little content in the end.

But as always, it may just be that, to borrow an internet meme, I am simply doing it wrong. Perhaps I am simply missing something?

The stage is yours.

http://akirakurosawa.info/forums/topic/seven-samurai-kurosawas-citizen-kane/#post-4447 <![CDATA[Re: Seven Samurai: Kurosawa’s Citizen Kane?]]> http://akirakurosawa.info/forums/topic/seven-samurai-kurosawas-citizen-kane/#post-4447 Mon, 12 Jan 2009 21:36:34 +0000 cocoskyavitch Donald Richie thought it was Kurosawa’s finest, and suggested that it might the best Japanese film ever made. I am never big on ranking…I only know that I really, really love this film.

It is a film that rewards casual viewing, careful viewing, repeated viewing and viewing over time. Isn’t that rather like a wonderful book, that rewards you every time you pick it up? I suppose that is the definition of greatness.

How was this greatness achieved? (This is not a rhetorical question. It truly astonishes me how this film creates meaning…cutting across all boundaries of nationality, language, and culture to become a meaningful personal experience for those who view it). This creation of greatness may be a mystery, but we can point to the some features of the film’s excellences:

The achievement:

This simple but complexly nuanced human story, the music, the cinematography, the editing and the acting all conspire to create a world that becomes ours on a deeply personal level. It is a film which influences later films and filmmakers.

The story:

Based on an original concept of Kurosawa’s which began as a “day in the life” documentary of a samurai’s existence, Kurosawa developed the idea into this breathtaking film of samurai who save a village.

The actors:

These are characters you will love, people you need to have in your life: the characters of Kyuzo, Heihachi and the unforgettable Bokuzen Hidari as a bewildered peasant..! Takeshi Shimura, as the leader of the samurai, Gambei, is the embodiment of wisdom, and calm in the storm. And, saying that Toshiro Mifune has star power is like saying the noonday sun sheds a little warmth.

Toshiro: It’s the cut of his jawline when he asks the village patriarch, “Got a problem, grandad?”, and the most charming look of confusion and embarassment playing over his face when he is told by Heihachi that he is the triangle on the samurai flag. It’s his energy, speed and agility and power and intelligence. Mifune sniffing out the fuse of a gun in the woods, bouncing through the brush half-naked in an abbreviated set of armor, carrying his ridiculously oversize sword on one shoulder, Mifune crying over a baby, and the incomparable scene of his embarassment that turns to rage when Mifune accuses the samurai of creating the farmer’s condition.

Toshiro Mifune represents the very spirit of desire…the need to prove one’s self: Mifune’s got the animal sexuality, the physical response to emotional situations, the expressive face, the humorous and varied vocalisms (his drunken burblings as the last “samurai” to audition, are nothing short of hilarious, and his “fish singing” is eerie and funny, too…also the grunted “eh?” that he often uses to show confusion, and the “heh” of disgust..such wonderful sounds, and so expressive!) Mifune’s acting is wild and alive, even more than 50 years after the film’s original release.

Fumio Hayasaka’s music is surprising and perfect, creating humor, or a counterpoint to the action, or deepening our sympathy and understanding of the characters. I sometimes hum the theme to myself without realizing it.

The filmography is ground-breaking:

the multiple cameras, slow-motion and attention to light and composition make each frame worthy of an 8X10 glossy. How can individual moments of such beauty be sustained throughout the movement of the film? It is an astonishing feat. And, best of all, no image degenerates into interior design or vacuous prettiness…everything forwards the movement of the cinematic experience. When the film ends, we feel as if we have lived it!

http://akirakurosawa.info/forums/topic/seven-samurai-kurosawas-citizen-kane/#post-4448 <![CDATA[Re: Seven Samurai: Kurosawa’s Citizen Kane?]]> http://akirakurosawa.info/forums/topic/seven-samurai-kurosawas-citizen-kane/#post-4448 Tue, 13 Jan 2009 01:31:43 +0000 Jeremy I would side more with Coco on this one, however at no point can anything be disagreed upon with Vili’s statement.

The flaws, the plot holes, the clear cut good and evil , doesn’t matter; it’s the ability to see great men, behaving greatly, for no real motivation, but the drive of their character. Something rarely seen in movies, and nothing to this extent.

The general kindness and greatness of Kambei, that naturally attracts fellow great men, and then the interaction of great man, is really all this film is about. As it’s not so much the great fighting skills of the people Kambei selects, as it’s the overall goodness of them, the great personality. The kind of people you want as friends, and would happily trade your life, to spare theirs, as they would do the same.

It’s the developing harmony of what is largely strangers, coming together for no real reason, other then to be all-around great guys, that makes the first half, so important to the point I would say the second half owns no meaning without the first.

It’s the warriors’ bond, upon the realization of sure death that is rarely explored in movies. Fight for the sake of a good fight, fighting for what’s right, fighting along great friends-perhaps the greatest and strongest of human interactions. To see this happen from the rather comical beginning to the sad ending-well…it’s special.

I’ll have to come back to this one, this film is no easy task to talk about, and perhaps as Vili mention, there isnt much to talk about. Indeed, I’m sure much of the silence is the inability to explore the movie, as with some of the others. For me, there is so much to talk about, but at the same time, nothing to really say.

http://akirakurosawa.info/forums/topic/seven-samurai-kurosawas-citizen-kane/#post-4449 <![CDATA[Re: Seven Samurai: Kurosawa’s Citizen Kane?]]> http://akirakurosawa.info/forums/topic/seven-samurai-kurosawas-citizen-kane/#post-4449 Tue, 13 Jan 2009 14:10:49 +0000 cocoskyavitch When I read Jeremy’s summary of the core of Seven Samurai it seemed to me that he had done in one quick paragraph everything that I had been unable to articulate myself:

The general kindness and greatness of Kambei, that naturally attracts fellow great men, and then the interaction of great man, is really all this film is about. As it’s not so much the great fighting skills of the people Kambei selects, as it’s the overall goodness of them, the great personality. The kind of people you want as friends, and would happily trade your life, to spare theirs, as they would do the same.

I would point to the phrase “general kindness and greatness” as something we almost NEVER see or experience-and if we are lucky enough to encounter another human being who exhibits “general kindness and greatness” we know it-we can feel ourselves in the presence of someone who makes us want to be our best-to live up to the example they have set.

Jeremy’s other great phrase:

“…it’s the overall goodness of them,”

Overall goodness! Who gives a flying leap about that? Well, jaded as we are with all the world’s evils, we do. Vili, maybe the “skeletal” sketch of these samurai is exactly just enough for us to admire them, then they are gone…just enough to make us care about them, and miss them, and wish we could have known them better… I know that I wish that the film were longer (!) even though I know, in terms of cinema it is exactly the right length. hey, and how lucky we are to see it entirely (thanks, Criterion for making it whole!).

And, Jeremy says:

“For me, there is so much to talk about, but at the same time, nothing to really say”.

And, I think, basically, Vili, that this is probably true on some level. I want first, before “dissecting” this film to acknowledge its special place in the works of art that have deeply affected me-in short-yes, a masterpiece of my personal pantheon (and, for once I am not alone in my appreciation-a nice thing-heartwarming!). Having made my respects to this great and good film, I am not quite ready, but am preparing and getting closer to engaging in an analysis.

http://akirakurosawa.info/forums/topic/seven-samurai-kurosawas-citizen-kane/#post-4450 <![CDATA[Re: Seven Samurai: Kurosawa’s Citizen Kane?]]> http://akirakurosawa.info/forums/topic/seven-samurai-kurosawas-citizen-kane/#post-4450 Tue, 13 Jan 2009 18:35:44 +0000 Snakewater First off I wanted to say that I’m new to this AK film club and am very excited about re-viewing all these amazing films. I will watch Seven Samurai again this week as it has been about a year since I last saw it. I did want to add in…

I believe that AK said something to the affect of two main points when making a film; one is to first and foremost be entertaining, and second have something to say about society or life. Now I’m sorry if I am way off here on that quote but as a filmmaker myself I pride my work on those values that I remember from AK somewhere along the line.

When watching an AK film for the first time I lose myself in the screen and am haunted by the story and images for days to come.

I see where Vili is coming from however, I feel that Seven Samurai is one of the most entertaining films I have ever seen. Filled with flowing images never letting up and a story that captivates the audience for over 3 hours (Which even to this day is a hard feat to do with essentially an action film).

Seven Samurai is a hard film to discuss in detail. It doesn’t leave much to the imagination or to really be pondered like Ikiru, Red Beard or Dodes’ka-den. It is an almost perfect film (in my opinion).


http://akirakurosawa.info/forums/topic/seven-samurai-kurosawas-citizen-kane/#post-4451 <![CDATA[Re: Seven Samurai: Kurosawa’s Citizen Kane?]]> http://akirakurosawa.info/forums/topic/seven-samurai-kurosawas-citizen-kane/#post-4451 Sat, 17 Jan 2009 10:21:54 +0000 Vili Maunula

Jeremy: The flaws, the plot holes, the clear cut good and evil , doesn’t matter; it’s the ability to see great men, behaving greatly, for no real motivation, but the drive of their character. Something rarely seen in movies, and nothing to this extent.

You have a point there Jeremy, although Kambei and Heihachi (who is my personal favourite) aside, I myself wouldn’t necessarily be all that interested in befriending these samurai. Great men they may be, in one way or another, but not very interesting personalities, I’m afraid.

It is also true what you say about the fact that this sort of altruistic behaviour is not very common in cinema. If we consider similar action films for example, you tend to have some sort of a reason for behaviour like this — saving the world, revenging a wife’s death, a kidnapped daughter, or what else have you had Bruce Willis running after. Here, the seven samurai who ultimately agree to the job, have no personal link to the village, and wouldn’t really need to care what happens to it.

Note, however, that none of the samurai actually come to the town’s rescue solely for altruistic reasons. First, there is rice on offer, which for a hungry ronin must have been an offer hard to turn down. Yet even then none of the samurai immediately agree to join simply for the sake of helping those in need.

Kambei has already made his mind to refuse the offer before the ape-like inn-dweller (is he a guest? the inn-keeper? I’ve never figured that out) brings the bowl of rice offered to the samurai to ridicule the poverty of these peasants (as they only eat millet). Perhaps partly because of his annoyance of the ape-man’s behaviour, or because he now has a concrete example of the peasants’ position, Kambei suddenly agrees to the task.

Katsushiro, who has made himself Kambei’s disciple without the old man’s approval, wants to be part of the group because he wants to learn from Kambei. This offers him an opportunity to learn.

Gorobei explicitly states that he doesn’t really care about the peasants, and only takes the job because he is fascinated by Kambei’s character.

Shichiroji joins the group for a very similar reason. In fact, from the scene where he is introduced, I get the feeling that he agrees to join before he has even heard what he will be fighting for, and rather joins because of his old ties with Kambei.

Heihachi’s reasons are not clear, apart from the fact that we discover him chopping wood in order to secure his next meal. Perhaps, fighting for a town looks like a less humiliating, or at least a more samurai-like option to him.

Kyuzo first refuses to join, but later appears at the inn. His reasons are a mystery — could be the desire to help, could be the opportunity to practice his fighting skills, could be the warm rice.

Kikuchiyo makes his way into the group because he wants to belong, and wants to prove himself worthy of a samurai status.

I am not saying that these reasons are underlined, or that we shouldn’t see these men as unselfish and kind in their help towards the villagers. In fact, by showing us samurai who absolutely refuse to join and are never heard of later, the film makes the point that these men are special in some way. But, and rather fortunately for the realism of the film, they are not absolute saints, either.

Snakewater: I believe that AK said something to the affect of two main points when making a film; one is to first and foremost be entertaining, and second have something to say about society or life. Now I’m sorry if I am way off here on that quote but as a filmmaker myself I pride my work on those values that I remember from AK somewhere along the line.

First of all, welcome to the group Snakewater! You are right, Kurosawa did seem to hold that view, and actually expressed it a number of times.

Like I noted earlier, however, I somehow fail to see how this movie would be the best Japanese ever made (as it’s so often branded), either in terms of its entertainment or commentary value.

http://akirakurosawa.info/forums/topic/seven-samurai-kurosawas-citizen-kane/#post-4452 <![CDATA[Re: Seven Samurai: Kurosawa’s Citizen Kane?]]> http://akirakurosawa.info/forums/topic/seven-samurai-kurosawas-citizen-kane/#post-4452 Sun, 18 Jan 2009 04:19:07 +0000 Jeremy Your having the rice play a rather large role, nearly to the point were the movie is pivoting on the value of rice. And while I understand the value in which rice had at the time, there is nothing to suggest the samurai find the rice as reward or reason for their actions. After the presentation of rice to in hopes to entice, rice from that point on, plays little role, and with the samurai often sharing their “prize” back to the villagers.

It is solely the attraction of Kambei in which every samurai decides to join. A great confident leader, attracts the great and confident, and it is Kambei that makes the samurai what they are. By themselves they are unguided, highly skilled, but largely forgettable. Kambei gives them a purpose and direction, an element that has been lost to them.

Katsushiro, is far too innocent, to seek Kambei only for his benefit. It’s entirely a fellowship of admiration, and Katsushiro doesn’t attempt to become a highly skilled sword fight, and thus train off Kambei, he merely wants to be a great man and his desire for guidance, and for this he finds attractive the ways of Kambei and Kyuzo. Both not so much their skill, but of their mindset.

Gorobei, and Shichiroji, indeed as you said an attraction to Kambei, great people quickly gain loyalty from strangers and friends.

Heihachi, comes a bit difference, but still there is no reward motivation. He has a job, appears relatively content, but simply isn’t within his realm. The opportunity to return to his natural being, would be one anyone would seek.

Kyuzo, is a loner, greatly skilled, and in no need of leadership. The appeal of Kambei takes time to build. He membership is too nothing more then admiration for a great man.

Kikuchiyo, never trick anybody, the people he wanted to impress, know exactly what he is. Much like Katsushiro, he needs a foundation of leadership, the appeal of a group of samurai consumes him. He at the end, suffices himself, not for the villagers but for the love he gains for the great men he was around, and the revenge of their deaths.

I put things simply, but that’s all they are. It’s a mixture of great people, lost in uncertain times, that all manage to come together, though their attraction of like minded people.

I would still have to put them all as saints, to the degree in which any man can really be. Kambei, is the true leader, but without the other 6 samurai he is nothing, and without Kambei they are nothing. The signs of a true team. As I said, it’s a bond that can only be had in combat, in which love for the other team members is so deep, at no point does the one hesitate to give their lives for another. And really all that die, with Kikuchiyo being the highlight to this, die only for each other, or to revenge the deaths of each other.

The rice, the villagers, the bandits, everything really, doesnt matter. This movie is about 7 people, no more, no less.

http://akirakurosawa.info/forums/topic/seven-samurai-kurosawas-citizen-kane/#post-4453 <![CDATA[Re: Seven Samurai: Kurosawa’s Citizen Kane?]]> http://akirakurosawa.info/forums/topic/seven-samurai-kurosawas-citizen-kane/#post-4453 Mon, 19 Jan 2009 20:10:38 +0000 cocoskyavitch I’m voting for Jeremy’s take-as representative (although, perhaps, not articulated as well by all those who love the film) as why those who “go for” Seven Samurai do so. For me, as i stated before, it is a beloved film with characters I adore.

You can duel it out amongst yourselves as to whether or not altruism really even exists in the world. I tend to be jaded enough to think that most everything people do has the stink of self-interest. But, in this case, self-interest may be that the samurai seek to regain their sense of worth. They are trained to fight. Their job is to fight. Without their jobs, what are they?

Perhaps they don’t want to articulate it in that way. When Kambei sees the dire situation…magnified suddenly buy his realization of the crushing poverty of the villagers, he understands that a “noble” or “right” thing to do is help them. A person who takes a risk because it is right is a rare and honorable person.

Sure, rice. But, as Jeremy noted, Heihachi already had a job.

I’m going to say that if true altruism doesn’t exist that the self-interest here is that the samurai will feel good about doing a good thing in their area of expertise. It gives them a job, returns their self-worth and identity, and I am not surprised that people will risk their lives for their honor. One’s self-respect cannot be underestimated.

http://akirakurosawa.info/forums/topic/seven-samurai-kurosawas-citizen-kane/#post-4454 <![CDATA[Re: Seven Samurai: Kurosawa’s Citizen Kane?]]> http://akirakurosawa.info/forums/topic/seven-samurai-kurosawas-citizen-kane/#post-4454 Mon, 19 Jan 2009 21:43:05 +0000 Jeremy Since we are teaming up against Vili, I say we vote to ban him from the film club. 😛

To be serious, I understand Vili’s viewpoint, and as I said there isnt really a way to disagree, other then to say, Vili is looking in the wrong way. Maybe even over complicated, as to why people do what they do, while I say, most people dont really know why they do what they do.

I would agree, that most people are fueled over what can be personally gained from the ordeal. However, this doesn’t have to assume evil motives. One can gain greatly, in helping others, or being around great people, while not actively seeking any thing of material value.

And, I still have to say, the brotherhood of friends, spawned from realization of death, and reliance on the fellow man, is so strong. Not only would great people, actively seek it(especially those raise in combat, as being samurai)but jump at the opportunity to join up with anyone that displays greatness, as did Kambei-even under complete awareness, that no reward but death is likely to be had.

Although, I must admit, if I view from Vili’s side, everything I said can be easily torn apart. So on that, I would just basically agree with Coco’s statement.


I’m going to say that if true altruism doesn’t exist that the self-interest here is that the samurai will feel good about doing a good thing in their area of expertise. It gives them a job, returns their self-worth and identity, and I am not surprised that people will risk their lives for their honor. One’s self-respect cannot be underestimated.

http://akirakurosawa.info/forums/topic/seven-samurai-kurosawas-citizen-kane/#post-4455 <![CDATA[Re: Seven Samurai: Kurosawa’s Citizen Kane?]]> http://akirakurosawa.info/forums/topic/seven-samurai-kurosawas-citizen-kane/#post-4455 Tue, 20 Jan 2009 08:31:26 +0000 Vili Maunula To be honest, I think that the view which you guys promote about the samurai’s intentions is probably closer to the intent and the spirit of the film than what I offered. Having said that, I think that we don’t necessarily disagree here quite as much as you may think.

Coco also raises a very good point about the lack of true altruism (something that I believe in as well), to which Jeremy makes an excellent remark: self-interested motives are not by definition evil, and neither are they necessarily against and away from the others. Indeed, the best trades are those where all parties win.

Where I would perhaps most disagree with Jeremy is the assertion that the film is “about 7 people, no more, no less”. I not only think that there is somewhat more to it, including the farmers and the overall situation, but also that these “7 people” are not really “7 people” at all, but rather a “one group of people”, within which we have only a few actual individual personalities, and even those personalities are quite simplistic, almost inhuman in their lack of complexity. Which is perhaps understandable, considering that they were modelled after historical (or more like legendary) figures.

Jeremy: Kyuzo, is a loner, greatly skilled, and in no need of leadership. The appeal of Kambei takes time to build. He membership is too nothing more then admiration for a great man.

I’m curious, would you be able to point at a particular scene where this is communicated to the viewer? Kyuzo’s participation remains something of a mystery to me, as we know so very little about him. He also exhibits

what I consider not only somewhat strange behaviour, but also something that keeps him at an arm’s length from the rest of the group.

Consider, for example, his going out into the rain to practice alone (the scene where he discovers the romance between Katsushiro and Shino), or his sudden departure to get that musket, followed by his immediately going to sleep, away from the others. There seems to be very little going on between him and the rest of the samurai.

Finally, banning me from the club probably wouldn’t make any difference, at least considering the amount of downtime that the site has experienced lately — either way, I am blocked from my own site! 😥 I’m now actively doing something about it though. I’ll keep you updated.