Sunday, July 17, 2011

samurai horse opera

As usual, I am a bumpkin when it comes to using the 'conveniences' of the internet, but since my wife subscribed to Netflix, I thought I would try to give some old Akira Kurosawa film a look. I picked one I hadn't seen, "Samurai Rebellion."

And as I watched, it occurred to me that it was similar in some ways to the old American westerns. True it was richer, but there were similar simplicities hiding complexities. Kurosawa's infatuation with the samurai era, always a delight by costume and formalities and swash-buckling sword play, struck me as similar to director John Ford's westerns ... a bit studied, but hinting at a rich underpinning of humanity and culture.

I wouldn't want to try to write an essay comparing Kurosawa to the American westerns. Kurosawa is darker and more directly human. But the hints and whispers of another time are sometimes better in either venue than the venue itself. Good, if sometimes predictable, stories, with other stories lurking beneath, going unspoken.

Or maybe I am just a sucker for costumes.


  1. cool commentary. I had neither heard of nor ever seen this movie, and I have seen much Kurosawa. I'm
    going to research the title. "samurai horse opera" is, for me, a great introduction to your blog.

  2. Hi

    The spaghetti western "A Fistful of Dollars" is a remake of the Akira Kurosawa film Yojimbo (1961). I imagine that there are many other such examples. S'pose this observation about remakes kinda fits, in part, with your latest post about "original thinking".



  3. Anonymous -- I think there is something to be said for the observation that all art is theft. If this is the case, then it's probably only the egregiousness of the theft that can be irritating. (I think, for example, of one of my favorite movies, "Jeremiah Johnson,' in which the central character tries to build a fire under a snow-laden evergreen only to have the snow fall and smother the fire. This is a direct steal (or if not, it's a remarkable bit of serendipity) from a Jack London story, "To Build a Fire.")