Wednesdays are the days between classes, and they’re reserved for killing time, avoiding class prep, and haircuts.  I’ve been avoiding finishing edits for a chapter because I’ve hit that point where I dislike everything I’ve written.  According to Kenneth Turan, Seven Samurai took Kurosawa and his screenwriters six weeks to write.  And I’ve been working on this novel for almost two years?

Seven Samurai clocks in at almost three and a half hours, but that’s three and a half hours not spent editing, I suppose.

In any case, I knew I was being terribly verbose when I wrote the chapter so some judicious trimming is in order.  It’s a matter of cutting out lines as ruthlessly as one cuts marauding bandits.  I always take perverse pleasure in the scene where the women of the village come out from their shelter, armed with spears, rakes, and other pointy domestic objects, in order to perforate a fallen bandit.  For a film in which women’s primary roles are either menial labor, samurai seductresses (despite the pageboy haircuts) or bandit favors, seeing them take the initiative — as bloody as it is — is refreshing.  Needless to say, I’m a huge fan of the whole pinky violence subgenre as well.

Hmm, I have drifted off-topic. Imagining girls wielding swords will do that.

This must be at least the fourth or fifth time I’ve seen Seven Samurai, and yet, strangely, each time, I can’t remember which samurais live and which ones die.  Well, I know for sure that three live and that at least three die, but the fate of the seventh one is always up in the air for me.  That’s a testament to either Kurosawa’s engaging storytelling or my crappy memory.  As it is, I remember clearly that, when I was younger, our PBS station in Denver (Channel 6!) used to play Kurosawa movies start to finish, no commercial interruptions.  And this, if anything, was my introduction to film as works of art.  I eagerly waited with my fingers on the “record” button of the VCR to preserve Throne of Blood (we read MacBeth my senior year of high school) and Ran (which didn’t fit onto one tape) for posterity.  Rashomon too, as I recall.  Not that I ever watched any of them again once I had recorded them, but that’s the way it was in the days of VCR.  Rewinding those tapes was just too onerous.

But as much as I want to say I saw Seven Samurai that way too, I can’t say for sure that it happened.  Odd — the more I try to remember if it showed or not, the more the only thing that sticks in my mind is the Japanese character for “intermission.”

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