Seven Weeks of Samurai
August 28, 2002
For the past several weeks Alex has been enjoying one of the perks that living in the big city brings: namely, the great independent and foreign films that can be seen here on a weekly basis. Ever since July the Film Forum in the Village has been showing a Kurosawa/Mifune film festival. This bastion of independent cinema is showing thirteen films that this great director made between 1948 and 1965 with his favorite star. From Rashomon, Yojimbo, High and Low, to the Seven Samurai, all the classics are here, including some lesser-known gems like Red Beard, The Bad Sleep Well and Drunken Angel. These are true gems of world cinema. Also during this time I';ve found an amazing book published last year that is a double biography of these two giants. I'll see a movie that I'd never even heard of before, then hang out for hours in the bookstore reading commentary on the film, learning all about the production, and seeing how it was received in both America and Japan at the time of its release. It's truly amazing to discover these treasures half a century after their creation. It's like unearthing a great jazz record that you never knew existed.

After being so enthralled with Stanley Kubrik in the last few years, it's a joy to really delve into another great director's work. These are two men with amazingly well thought-out world-views. One who concentrated on man's small place in the cosmos, and how one slip could send life spinning out of control, while the other had tremendous faith in personal choice. I have no idea if they ever met, but I'd love to have been a fly on the wall listening to a conversation between them. Now there's an idea for a one-act play, hmmm.... I'm hard pressed to name a director or producer working today that even has a world-view apparent in their films, and these two men managed to sustain and explore themes almost throughout their entire careers.
The festival at the Film Forum runs through September 12th, ending with the Seven Samurai. Later this week I will see the second to last film in this run, Sanjuro, then it's on the marathon that is Samurai. A theme that runs through many of Kurosawa's films is that in a chaotic world, the choices that we make are what define us as human. It's a hopeful massage that good will survive only if we continue to create good in the world. And in this chaotic city of New York as we prepare to move back to work in Hollywood, these life fulfilling images and themes are like a breath of fresh air. What a joy it's been.

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