December 12, 2009

My five favorite Samurai films. Kurosawa, Toshiro Mifune.

Whether via Netflix or your local indie video store, these films—some of which provided inspiration to Western directors including Francis Ford Coppola, George Lucas, Stephen Spielberg—are worth your time.

1. Seven Samurai

One of the all-time best movies—of any genre. Far more than a samurai film (if you think samurai films are about swordplay or Japanese culture), Seven Samurai is an epic tale of human suffering, cooperation, nobility, class, triumph and tragedy.

2. Hidden Fortress

My personal favorite, all about honor, nobility and journey. It was a close source in plot and characters for Star Wars. Watch the movie, the parallels are endless. George Lucas wanted Mifune to play Obi wan, apparently:

3. Yojimbo

4. Sanjuro

…upon which Clint Eastwood’s famous Fistful of Dollars “Spaghetti Western” was based. I think another one was based on Sanjuro, right?


5. The Samurai Trilogy

Not a Kurosawa-directed film, but great: the story of Musashi, one of Japan’s greatest heroes, both in battle and in peace.

This scene is one of the great face-off battle scenes in literature, and in cinema:

Bonus: also not Kurosawa, and not with Mifune, but…Harakiri is perfect.

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