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The Effect of Left-Right Reversal on Seven Samurai

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    Some of you may remember that there was a study a couple of years back which showed people a copy of Yojimbo with the image mirrored (left became right, right became left). It studied how this reversal affected the audience’s appreciation of the film.

    A post at The Signifier titled Akira Kurosawa’s Reversal of Power has now taken that study as its starting point to briefly discuss power hierarchies in film composition, particularly Seven Samurai. It’s a blog post worth reading, and I would certainly be interested in a more thorough exploration of the topic.

    Although the author claims that the original study is inaccessible to most people, you can in fact download it at i-Perception’s website.



    Reading your post, my initial assumption was that if ‘art’ is bound to the quality of space it is imbued with, then any reversal of screen really ought not to matter all that much.

    After looking at some of the screen shots on that link, I’m still not sure if my assumption is no longer relevant. To me, the character is dominant (or not). If Mifune is on the left side of the screen, he seems dominant. If he is on the right side, he looks dominant. But in both cases, Kurosawa has left the right amount of space for that dominance to shine.

    At least, that is how it appears to me. But who knows? Perhaps our brains are hardwired enough such that these things do make a difference.

    Art may be a breaking out of that hardwiring?

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