Kurosawa’s ‘Seven Samurai’ was the East’s answer to an American Western

The fact that Akira Kurosawa’s 1954 epic features regularly on “Best Films Ever” lists might say more about the kind of people who vote in such polls than the movie itself. (Screengrab)
Updated 08 August 2018

Kurosawa’s ‘Seven Samurai’ was the East’s answer to an American Western

DUBAI: To the casual moviegoer, “Seven Samurai” can appear a daunting prospect. A three-and-a-half-hour, 60-year-old, black and white samurai story set in 16th-century feudal Japan – it seems to be the ultimate in film-buff nicheness. The fact that Akira Kurosawa’s 1954 epic features regularly on “Best Films Ever” lists might say more about the kind of people who vote in such polls than the movie itself.

Like the impenetrable later works of James Joyce, it seems probable that many copies of “Seven Samurai” remain unopened. I was certainly guilty as charged — my DVD copy lurked at the bottom of a “to watch” pile for almost a decade.

How wrong my preconceptions of pretension proved to be. More so than its much-touted technical triumphs, “Seven Samurai” first and foremost offers an easily digestible, audience-pleasing tale that gallops along with the pace of an epic adventure, driven by the force of a universal moral fable. This movie is long but never slow.

Besieged by bandits, desperate peasants entice hungry, out-of-work “ronin” samurai warriors to protect them, a gang led stoically by veteran actor Takashi Shimura. Filmed during a year-long harvest, and costing four times its initial budget, the film is more concerned with building unlikely, cross-caste relationships – among and between the outcasts and their suspicious hosts – than the redemptive, rain-and blood-soaked climax.

Much has been written of Kurosawa’s debt to – and influence on – the American Western. This film’s sincere mix of action, heroism, camaraderie and slapstick are certainly straight out of the playbook of director John Ford, Hollywood’s master of the genre. It also mirrors the clear moral dynamic found in early examples of the genre — the age-old battle of good versus evil — along with other elements such as a deep respect for the land and an affecting, affirmative sense of brotherhood. All of this is intertwined with a distinctly Eastern sense of hierarchy and honor, at a time when Japan was struggling to redefine both.

Six years after its release, “Seven Samurai” was successfully remade in Hollywood as “The Magnificent Seven” – the first of three Kurosawa pictures given the Hollywood Western treatment. The original was not only never bettered, it was destined never to be forgotten.


Bella Hadid shares heartfelt message for Eid

The star extended warm wishes to her followers. (AFP)
Updated 25 May 2020

Bella Hadid shares heartfelt message for Eid

  • Bella Hadid said that this holiday season was always special to her as a child

DUBAI: Part-Palestinian model Bella Hadid took a trip down memory lane on Instagram on Sunday to reflect on her Eid memories with her family.

The star extended warm wishes to her followers and said that this holiday season was always special to her as a child.

 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 

A post shared by Bella (@bellahadid) on

“I remember the beauty of Ramadan, and fasting with my father and my Teta when I was young. Eid was so special for me, to be able to celebrate together,” she wrote to her 30.8 million followers.

 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 

Eid Mubarak my friends and family عيد مبارك As Ramadan comes to a close, my thoughts are with families and children around the world without a safe place to call home. I remember the beauty of Ramadan, and fasting with my father and my Teta when I was young. Eid was so special for me, to be able to celebrate together. It makes my heart break thinking about the children and families that are separated and unable to unite during this time. I wish there was a way that I could take the pain away or more that I could do...But for this week, I will be supporting and donating to three charities that are working endlessly, in different ways, to help support Refugees, displaced families, families in the front lines of conflict and very importantly, the powerful and beautiful Middle Eastern children across Palestine, Syria, Iraq, Lebanon and other affected regions. @preemptivelove @unrwausa and @mecaforpeace I would like to explain to you exactly what these amazing organizations do...The Middle East Children's Alliance works for the rights and well being of children in the middle east. They support dozens of community projects for Palestinian children and refugees from Syria. MACA has been dedicated to making sure the children get direct aid like food, water, clothes, toys, books and school supplies... Financial Support and assistance in the West Bank and Gaza that helps children get basic needs such as accessible parks, kindergarten classes, libraries, sports, MUSIC/ art programs etc! They also offer university programs to help Palestinians grow up to be everything they can be. I will be supporting this organization for a very long time I want these children to know that they are so special and that there are people here that care about them.. ( if you would kindly slide to the right to see how Preemtive Love Coalition & UNRWA USA have dedicated their time as well) my Preemtive Love Coalition donation link will be in my Bio Thank you for reading I would love for you to join me to help these incredible charities, and if not, spreading the word will always help.. We can and will be the voice for the ones who cannot be heard ‎عيد مبارك

A post shared by Bella (@bellahadid) on

Captioning a series of pictures of refugees and displaced families in the Middle East, the 23-year-old model said: “As Ramadan comes to a close, my thoughts are with families and children around the world without a safe place to call home.

“It makes my heart break thinking about the children and families that are separated and unable to unite during this time. I wish there was a way that I could take the pain away or more that I could do.”

 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 

My rider! @gigihadid 25...big girl!!!

A post shared by Bella (@bellahadid) on

The supermodel has always been vocal in her support of less-fortunate families in the region. This week, she announced that she would be donating to three charities to help support “refugees, displaced families, families in the front lines of conflict and very importantly, the powerful and beautiful Middle Eastern children across Palestine, Syria, Iraq, Lebanon and other affected regions.”

Her heartfelt message went on to explain what each of these three organizations — Preemptive Love, UNRWA USA, and Middle East Children’s Alliance — do to help the needy.

“I want these children to know that they are so special and that there are people here that care about them,” Hadid wrote.