Wednesday, October 15, 2008


The sickness has faded, but I'm sorry to say my opinion on Henry V hasn't changed. I sat through the second half of The Battle of Agincourt this afternoon and you know, it's just too damn jaunty a representation of war for me. I keep expecting that damn singing rooster from Disney's Robin Hood to pop out and sing a song about how evil them naasssssty Frenchies are. And finally, when Laurence "Lloyd Christmas" Olivier gets angry enough to put an end to this definitively namby-pamby fight scene, the movie doesn't end with hurrahs and flag raising. Oh no, it plods on for another thirty minutes as a showcase for the suddenly slimy King Hal and his grabby hands and kiddie-fiddler chuckle. Seriously though, in King Hal's final, er, romantic scene with Princess "Kate" I kept expecting him yell, "look a leper" and drop a big old ball of roofies in her watered-wine. Kind of creepy, one hundred percent boooooring.

I'd heard about Seven Samurai for most of my formative years in film watching. I'd heard about it's influence on the great directors, and I'd never seen anything by Kurosawa, and this was his great masterpiece. On top of that, I'd seen the amazing The Magnificent Seven and I couldn't wait to see the original SAMURAI version of it. You could say there was a lot of hype preceding this release.

And, Jesus, this film just blows the hype out of the water. This is one of the great classics, and you can just see the peeps at Criterion drooling over the chance to release it as their SECOND release. It's starkly beautiful, the acting is superb (and not just Japanese superstar Toshiro Mifune), there's an hour of samurai-bandit fisticuffs and most importantly, the message is absolutely touching. This is a movie about the end of an era, the end of a way of life, and in the deaths and the final images in this film, Kurosawa beautifully shows this. This is truly a classic, and really the first movie in this wonderful series that has me excited to be digging in.

Good God, I feel as if Henry V was my initiation in to the Criterion Quest. A hall of crossbow releasing traps and pitfalls that I had to, uh, not sleep through to gain entrance in to this beautiful blog. Well I did it disbelievers, so be prepared for more ... CRITERION QUEST.

Tomorrow: The Lady Vanishes (3) and maybe Fishing With John (43)

1 comment:

Mark said...

I've always put off watching Seven Samurai because I thought my expectations were too high, which would distort my viewing enjoyment. After reading this installment, I guess I will go over to Netflix and queue this classic.

Keep up the good work.