Monday, August 13, 2007
The other day my good old friend Arin was desperate to watch samurai movies! He could recall only one samurai movie - that too because this samurai movie was inspiration to a big-budget Hindi movie named 'China Gate'. So he rented the Kurosawa classic 'Seven Samurai'. Though I had watched it earlier, but how can miss a second screening if its being played in home! We watched the movie together that night. Enjoyed Mifune's (Kikuchiyo) eccentric role play, Shimada's well planned strategy, Kyuzo's cool swordplay.
The next day in the same video store Arin found 'The Magnificent Seven' and readily realized it to be a western remake of last night's movie. Still charmed by the Samurai chivalry, he rented the 'Magnificent Seven' (Mag7). Again we started watching it together along with Benny, who liked Mag7 a lot because it was one of the movies he grew up with. I've heard of Mag7, its an undoubted western classic; and I liked the theme very much.
So we started. And was disappointed.
Mag7 is basically same plot set in Mexico, where poor villagers speak in English only to end the sentence with a Spanish word to let you know that they are actually Mexican! The village, which is basically supposedly a farming village is situated in the midst of arid valley with hardly any greenery surrounded by. The villagers are as dumb as they can ... they don't have any expression at all. In the first five minutes I was getting a feeling this is going to be a bad remake, and I looked up at Arin. He lets out a sigh and states, 'I'm never gonna watch a remake after I had watched the original!'
Well to be honest, we couldn't find out why Mag7 is so great. The acting is poor, the script little shaky, too much of statements in form of dialogs. Whereas in 'Seven Samurai' even the small extras have done wonderful believable acting, the script never loses its focus of defeating the bandits. Mag7 has tried to put some subplots but before the subplots mature they are abandoned (e.g., Lee's nightmare). You wonder why were these situations brought into the movie at all! I'm not mentioning the scene by scene or sometimes word by word copy of the original (e.g., closing dialogues)
The final conclusion was pretty simple. Arin had already spelt it out, 'Never watch a remake after you have watched the original!'. I agree there are some exceptions, but this is the general truth. And as per Mag7, it turned out to be Seven Dwarfs in front of the Seven Samurai.
There is epilogue. Benny now wants to see the 'Seven Samurai' and Arin wants to wash away the memory of Mag7. So we may rent 'Seven Samurai' again very soon.