Film by Shane “They Got It Right The First Time” Hnetka
I dislike remakes immensely. Other than being an obvious money grab, there’s rarely any real reason for anyone to remake or update a movie. Nobody ever takes a crappy movie that had an interesting idea and improves upon it*, no… they always take a great movie and try to… I don’t know, but they seldom succeed in whatever they’re attempting.
Case in point: Antoine Fuqua is currently remaking The Magnificent Seven. Why? The 1960 version was good.
Then again, it was a remake, too.
Happy Belated Birthday, Kurosawa
Akira Kurosawa (1910-1998) would have had his 106 birthday on March 23. Not normally a milestone, but I’ll manufacture any excuse to talk about Kurosawa’s movies. I have a tough time deciding which is his best: Seven Samurai, Ikiru, Yojimbo, Rashomon, High and Low, Ran… the list goes on and on. It’s all amazing.
For those unfamiliar with Kurosawa, he was a Japanese filmmaker who started making movies in the 1940s. His first was Sanshiro Sugata, about a young man who travels to the city to learn jujitsu but instead learns judo. Naturally, a duel happens at the end. Sanshiro Sugata was a hit and Kurosawa made a sequel. He quickly mastered his craft, and soon he wasn’t just making dramas and action films — he was making Cinema with a capital C.
I’ve talked (a lot) about Yojimbo in the past, which was remade as A Fistful of Dollars, and its sequel, Sanjuro, and more recently about The Hidden Fortress, George Lucas’ influence for Star Wars. But 1954’s Seven Samurai is arguably Kurosawa’s best movie.
It Will Take Its Place With the Seven Greatest Films of All Time!
Seven Samurai is about a small village that’s besieged by bandits in 1586 Japan. Desperate, the village looks to hire some samurai to defend it.
The villagers find an aging ronin (masterless samurai) who agrees to help, and in turn he enlists six more samurai. They go to the village and train the villagers to help them defeat the bandits.
I love Seven Samurai beyond reason and adjectives. It’s fantastic and brilliant, and it influenced action films and westerns in the U.S., where it was remade in 1960 as The Magnificent Seven. And while that film is good, it’s no Seven Samurai — which has earned its spot on any legitimate “greatest movies of all time” list.
So when I hear about another remake, I can’t help but wonder, “Why bother?” Just watch Kurosawa’s original — it’s one of best films ever made.
*Prove me wrong! E-mail examples to firstname.lastname@example.org
Shane Hnetka is a professional film and comic book nerd.