I Finally Watched ‘Seven Samurai’

Seven Samurai is a film that has inspired filmmakers for generations. Even Jon Favreau has recently expressed how Seven Samurai helped inspire certain elements of The Mandalorian which is pretty cool.

I watched this movie knowing that it was an important piece of my film knowledge and while I’m glad I can say I’ve seen it I wasn’t a fan.

Don’t get me wrong though! I understand why it is such a famous and iconic movie. In 1954 it was a marvel, an absolute masterpiece that had filmmakers watching in awe, but as someone who has seen a lot better and a lot more riveting films, Seven Samurai came off as a movie that just wouldn’t come to an end.

For the first two hours of the film, I was all into the story. I was following the developments of the characters, I eagerly anticipated the final showdown between the villagers, samurai, and villainous bandits, but I had no idea that the battle between the good guys and the bad guys would take an agonizing hour to finish!

I’ve seen long battles before, The Battle at Helm’s Deep in The Lord of the Rings: The Two Towers is one of them, but this felt like a recurring hodgepodge of screaming and using the same tactics over and over again until the point where I completely lost interest and missed seeing the character I was most interested in, Kikuchiyo, die!

By the film’s conclusion, I was exhausted and thankful that the movie had come to an end. Yes, I understand that this film is supposed to be legendary but I found it to be legendarily dull after a while.

Now, I am not saying it isn’t a good story because it is. Probably, in novel form, it would’ve been a lot more fun to read. Unfortunately, in movie form, it just never could find itself out of the rut that it was in for that last hour.

I’m giving this movie 85 out of 100 and 3.5 out of 5 stars. It’s not a bad movie but geez it is tasking on the brain.

I thank you for reading and I hope you have a lovely day.

6 thoughts on “I Finally Watched ‘Seven Samurai’”

  1. It’s been a while since I’ve seen this, but what I remember of it seems like it had some good parts and bad parts, yeah. Unfortunately, the advances in staging interesting action scenes that we take for granted these days were very early back then, and I’d call almost any old war or conflict themed movie “dated” in that respect. That said… well, you’ve got stuff in the last ten to fifteen years like (random rant warning) half the Transformers movies, where the CGI wizardly fails utterly to even distinguish Autobots and Decepticons to enough of a degree that you’re all that confident moment to moment who or what you’re looking at, and after a while it even starts to suffer from… I don’t know, is “action blur” a good term for this thing? You know, where an action scene goes on long enough that you’re not entirely sure why you still care and it just kinda starts to run together in a blur?

    A lot of old action movies are kind of like that though. Then again, it’s not restricted to old ones, either. (Rant warning…) You’re going to hate me for saying this, but Rogue One is suuuuuuper guilty of this. When I first watched it — twice — in theatres, the Vader rampage on the Rebel cruiser just completely went over my head. Like, this is only one of the most awesome action bits in the entire saga, but in the context of the full movie, it loses 80% of its impact. The battle on Scarif runs soooooo long, with so much tension, that by the time you hear Vader’s breathing in a dark hallway, one of two things has happened to you. Either you’ve gotten bored of the nonstop action and don’t care any more because you’re just not as interested in the blasty stuff after a while, or you’re so amped up on adrenaline because you DO care that you’re almost physically burned out. It gets even worse when you realize it follows up one of the more emotionally impactful moments in the movie — you’ve just watched the two key protagonists die melodramatically in a bigger-than-nuclear fireball, and you might even be in tears at this point. You’re just… not in an emotional place, whichever way you slice it, to appreciate what you’re seeing when Vader starts teeing off on Rebel jabronis. This segment didn’t even pop out for me until I started watching it in isolation on YouTube a year or two later. And make no mistakes… it’s an AWESOME segment. But it’s a classic example of “burying the lede” on a narrative level.

    That said, the nadir in the CGI era (that I’ve seen) is Michael Bay’s Transformers series. Especially the second and third ones — most of those movies consists of long shots of indistinguishable grey metal lumps taking potshots at each other at a medium to long distance. I mean, I’m an old G1 Transformers fan, and I found myself going “wait, is that an Autobot or a Decepticon?” on almost every single shot. And it just goes on, and on, and on, and on like that. That’s… really bad. Almost unforgivable for an action movie, really. I’ve never seen so much VFX cash thrown at so poor a result in my life.

    Seven Samurai is definitely guilty of some of this. I’m sure it was made for a Japanese audience that had a much bigger appetite for nonstop swordplay than we did, so there’s a bit of that going on. It’s been a decade or so since I saw it, so for all I know there’s a bunch of nuance in there that might keep it interesting, but IMO you need a fairly important reason to keep a battle scene running longer than about twenty minutes, or you need to be damn near perfect in staging a progression from beginning to middle to end so that you keep it interesting. (In fairness, Rogue One aaaaaalmost gets there, but I’d still maintain that when your best five minute clips stand out a lot better in isolation than they did in the context of the movie as a whole, you’ve probably screwed things up a bit in your narrative pacing.) And yeah, Seven Samurai overdoes it.

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    1. Another description of bad CGI fight scenes can be described for The Hobbit: The Battle of the Five Armies which is a CGI disaster. Omg, I just watched it again for the first time in I don’t know how long the other day and I was petrified. It looked SOOO bad.

      The Battle of the Five Armies, unlike Peter Jackson’s other masterpieces like The Battle of Helm’s Deep in The Two Towers or the Battle of Osgiliath in The Return of the King, suffers from that “action blur” you were talking about. After the ridiculously long and stuuuupid Thor/golden floor part, I pretty much check out.

      Yeah, I admit (with some embarrassment) that I cried my eyes out when Thorin died and Tauriel was brokenhearted over Kili’s death through those first five times I watched that movie but nowadays I can’t even finish this film without either falling asleep or losing interest.

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      1. Yeah. The Hobbit movies were a dumpster fire in general. And it’s really sad, because the original movies were soooo good, and in no small part because Jackson had such a good touch for which parts of Tolkien’s lack of self editing to leave out and which parts needed a little embellish here and there to make it more interesting on the screen. Helm’s Deep was very well done, aside from the whole bit about elves actually being there. It was the one constant of elves — perhaps to the detriment of their supposed being the perfect beings in the original writing — that by the Third Age they’d largely stopped giving a fish about the world enough to fight for it any more. Even so, it was very well done. The only minor flaw: they left out the part where Gandalf explains to the Council of Elrond how Sauron understands that Gollum’s Ring he lost to Bilbo was the One. The passage in the books is very deductive in understanding the Enemy’s logic, roughly: “He knows it is a Great Ring, for it gave long life. He knows it is not one of the Three, for they do not suffer the touch of evil. He knows it is not one of the Seven or the Nine, for they are accounted for. He knows it is the One.”

        The Hobbit? Hoo boy. I’ll never understand why anybody thought it was a good idea to take a 200 page book and stretch it into three movies. Every single one of them had stuff added to it out of whole cloth, and while for the most part the license worked in the original movies, everything they added in Hobbit didn’t. It’s unfortunate, because it started off reasonably well in the beginning, until it came to the Great Goblin… and we just sort of saw the wheels begin to come off. Everything that happened in the dealings with Smaug was just kinda messed up and overdone. It’s also apparent that Jackson wanted to “rescue” the dwarves from their portrayal in the book, but it unfortunately comes at Bilbo’s own cost. I’m the books, the dwarves kinda off badly from start to finish; they’re highly greedy and never take up much of an interest in fighting for anything and over-rely on Bilbo for most everything, until they’ve got gold in their hands, and then suddenly they’re overzealous about wanting to fight for it. Cumberbatch did a great job as Smaug, for what it was worth, but Bilbo came off as a bit too milquetoast I’m general.

        And then, of course… yeah. The Battle of Five Armies. It’s what? Two pages in the book? Three, maybe? And they stretched this into a whole movie? Whyyyyyyyy?

        I mean, there WAS material the book left out for glossing over the rediscovery of Sauron. Partly this was because Tolkien hadn’t actually intended the Ring to mean much when he first wrote it, and kind of retconned it when his publishers told him to write more about Hobbits. He wanted to just publish the Silmarillion. From what I’ve read, the whole concept of the Rings was largely created for the three books that ultimately became his most famous work, and then the Hobbit was edited after the fact to fit. In fact, I’ve read that in the original edition of the Hobbit, Bilbo’s “story” that Gollum willingly gave him the Ring as a gift after losing the riddle contest to help him get out was actually true.

        Then after writing LOTR, and the Ring became the MacGuffin, Tolkien realized that (a) Gollum would never willingly give up the Ring, and (b) the Ring’s influence should be evident on Bilbo immediately, and so that scene was rewritten to make Bilbo find the Ring, Gollum enraged when he realized he had it, and Bilbo choosing to lie to his comrades that he got it or how he had come to possess it. But this was all edited after the fact to make the Ring’s first hints of evil effect on Bilbo part of the story, while passing them off as being innocent enough that we don’t notice it until Gandalf calls him out for it in Fellowship.

        However, the extra lore behind this could’ve been spliced in. Dol Guldur and the discovery that the Necromancer was Sauron could’ve been done better. The meeting of the Council and Saruman’s duplicity could’ve been handled better. Heck, the fact that Thorin’s father had the last of the Seven, and that it was taken from him in the dungeons of Dol Guldur, could’ve actually been shown in some sort of flashback. And better treatment could’ve been given to their forcing Sauron from Mirkwood instead of inventing an entire movie out of the Battle of Five Armies.

        Sigh. They had so much to work with that they left out, and made up so much to put it in that shouldn’t have been there. And yes, it blurs. Ohhhhhh, does it ever blur. I would applaud you for even being willing to watch it five times. By the time the third one came along, I actually missed it in theatres, partly out of disinterest. It wasn’t long after my son was born, and I was sparing about what I was willing to see in theatres… and this simply didn’t make the cut. I wound up watching it on an HBO free trial once, and I never had the urge to watch it again. I’ve owned the DVDs of LOTR, and eventually bought the Blu Rays as well. (Not the extended editions. That was perhaps a bad hint that Jackson was giving in to the temptation to put too much back in.)

        Never have owned any version of a hard disk of Hobbit. Don’t want to. Honestly, the old Rankin Bass animated version is better than Jackson’s. And that’s sad… because that was absolutely not the case with LOTR. In fairness, that’s because of a really stupid struggle over the rights to animate LOTR itself, that led to two different attempts by different people. There’s the one actually called “Lord of the Rings,” which weirdly stops some time around the fall of Saruman and just… never was finished. Like, the people just never finished what they started. Then Rankin Bass got hold of some rights to it, but they weren’t allowed to cover any of the parts the other people did first, so it’s a shorter part that covers the Return of the King, and only Return of the King, and didn’t do it nearly as well as Hobbit was.

        So in the animated versions, Hobbit was really good, and LOTR was the dumpster fire because of the weird IP rights issues. From Jackson? Other way around. LOTR was awesome, and Hobbit was a mess… and it was Jackson’s own fault.

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      2. Seeing as you how you’re not a fan of extended material you probably should skip the Extended Editions of LOTR but…THEY ARE AWESOME! There are some really fascinating tidbits to uncover and in case of the third one the extended material actually makes The Return of the King better.

        I own all three of The Hobbit movies and can pretty much recite the first two on will. That’s how many times I’ve seen them. (I’m not proud of it.) Lol.

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      3. 😱😱😱

        Oh dear. The damage to your soul goes even further than I thought! I’m sorry this is imprinted on your break so much… that sounds awful. I really hope you don’t still have traumatic flashbacks when you’re my age. I can still hear Brigitte Nielsen’s horrific delivery of her lines in “Red Sonja“ in my head just from the thought of “bad movies I wish I couldn’t remember” going through my mind, even though I saw it some time in high school. Just visualize a middle schooler droning off the words, “I don’t need eyes to find you… I can smell you at a thousand paces” in the most amateur, “I’ve never been near a drama class, much less acting school” cadence you can imagine, and you’ll have a rough idea of it. 🤣

        …I bet there’s a support group for stuff like this. 😅

        Liked by 1 person

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