I ruin ‘Seven Samurai’

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My wife ordered Seven Samurai because it’s one of my all-time favorite movies and now and then she makes an effort to appreciate what I like. We watched it last night. The first half hour of the Kurosawa classic is taken up with the farmers’ pilgrimage to a provincial Japanese city to find some samurai to protect their village from bandits. It’s the late 1500s, and these ignorant farmers have no status; in the city they’re beneath drunks and layabouts. You think, there’s no way that these peasants can hire the most exalted figures in Japanese society, trained warriors, to risk their lives to save the village’s barley crop.

Kurosawa loves to dwell in sociological detail, and his portrayal of the farmers and the provincial city and the lives of the samurai is tremendous. As I say, it goes on for fully half an hour with a lot of drama, and when at last a noble old samurai agrees to take up the farmers’ cause, I turned to my wife and said, "The movie’s over."

I.e., the problem’s been resolved; we know the samurai are going to whip the bandits.

A few minutes later, my wife got up from the couch and said, "You ruined it," and went into the bedroom to read.

This morning she told me that after I declared the movie over, it lost its savor, it was just a masculine war movie. She said I had ruined several books and movies over the years. Lately I ruined Peter Carey (mannered). A few years ago it was The English Patient, and The Remains of the Day. It didn’t matter that subsequently I got into the English Patient, as a great lush romance; I could never get my wife back on it. She said that she actually trusts my opinions on some subjects, that I influence her. That surprised me. When you’ve lived together for a while, you sort of think your spouse takes your opinions for granted

I told my wife that she checked out before a great scene involving women/sex in the village and before the (re)entry of the most important character in the film, the wild drunken samurai played by Toshiro Mifune. Can we try again tonight? I don’t know, I have to think about it, she said. It’s not looking good.

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