Some months back as part of the ongoing movie Western project I watched The Magnificent Seven (1960), the Hollywood re-make of Seven Samurai (1954).
I hadn't seen this film other than as the grainy flicker undergrad days of student foreign film series, which were all about 'the Film as art' and the serious consideration of same. I'd not known the word, 'katana' or 'sushi.' I hadn't known any Japanese history other than Hiroshima. Shogun hadn't even been published. I had not met or known anyone who was Japanese. I didn't drink tea or eat rice or live in a neighborhood with a Japanese specialty grocery. A goodly number of my friends hadn't spent years of their lives training in Japanese martial arts, or collaborated with Japanese artists, or lived in Japan for a period of time, or received commissions from Japanese art institutions or sold some piece of their work to be used in Japanese advertising.
I watched the 2006 Criterian restoration, lush with velvety blacks, spanking with half tones, the images sharp as the blades of the katanas of warring 16th c Japan. The film score seems odd now, to my 21st C ears. If the film had been made now rather than in 1954, the score wouldn't have been 50's classic Hollywood movie music, founded in jazz. It would have been more 'Japanese' (well, it would also be mostly electronic too). I'm wondering how much that western score had to do with Hollywood's decision to re-make it for the U.S. market?
The emphasis Seven Samurai put upon what a farmer's life is like, what it mean to be rooted in the land, preyed upon by all, perceiving all as the enemy, resonated with me so strongly now. In my undergrad days I couldn't even see that; was that, because like Kikuchiyo (the Mifune role), I was also seeking to escape the bondage of the farming life?