* Kurosawa, Akira: “Tsukuru to ire koto wa subzuraki” /It’s wonderful to creat Japan 2002 Yoshinari Okamoto
When I first saw Seven Samurai back in the 70’s I had no idea that I one day would have seen all of Kurosawa’s film. Back then a Japanese film was a rare bird in a film club. During the years I saw the film in several versions. It is one of those films that was drawn and quartered for different markets. Only rarely do I buy a DVD with a film I have already seen, there are so many un-seen films out there. But to get the 3-disc box from Criterion was essential since it seemed to be the definitive when it comes to length, quality and extras.
This extra is a part of the Toho Masterworks series and gives a lot of detailed background information on the shooting of Seven Samurai. The final battle scene in the rain was never intended to be so muddy. The shooting of the scene took part in winter time and the set was covered by snow, which needed to be hosed down with water.
The constant (artificial) raining turns the whole image into a violent battle in the same way that the water from the shower adds to the violence in Psycho. It wouldn’t be the same if the attack happened after she turned off the shower. Graphic aspects is a most powerful tool in story telling on film, and also one of the most under-used.
Sequences from Seven Samurai was often used as examples during the ‘70s in the then popular courses on how to write an effecient film script. So it is interesting to learn from this documentary that the film was suppose to start with an attack of the robbers on another village, but Kurosawa decided against it because he didn’t want to start a film with a too complicated. This is of course a standard Hollywood principle, if you are doing a film about shark attacks start with a shark attack, to give the audience an impression of what to exact. In the final version of Seven Samurai the robbers hoover on their horses above the village discussing if they should do this village too, but decide to come back after the harvest. The heads of the horses move across the screen creating a violent graphic curve, similar to the rain at the end. It works the same way, but more subtle.
* LT: The Honey-mousers: “Mice follies” USA 1960 McKimson
A spoof on the comedy series The Honeymooners only three shorts were made, and this was the last one, so another completion. This series was unusual, more dialogue then usual, and a nice touch in this one is that most of the action happens off screen.
There is a new book by Ethan Mordden on one of my favourites, Kurt Weill (and Lotte Lenya), reviewed by NY Times.
It looks like it is not absolutely necessary reading and the reviewer gives a couple of alternatives. Speak lowe, when you speak of love, a selection of letters between Kurt and Lotte is a good place to start. I have read it. There is nothing like letters and private diaries. August Strindberg (22 volumes), Bertolt Brecht, Mark Twain, Samuel Pepys, James Boswell, Shelley, Byron, Mary Shelley and Mary Woolstonecraft are some of my journeys through other’s lives.
* Schånberg: Göteborg (1981)
This book is a good starting point if you know nothing or very little about Göteborg. It was written as a part of the series Våra levande landskap covering the whole of Sweden. The best part is the historical, from ice age to present day. It turns a bit simple describing the present day Göteborg, not much has happen since the ‘80s.