History Question

I’ve assigned the movie Seven Samurai by acclaimed Japanese director Kurosawa Akira (or in the West, Akira Kurosawa). Why? The movie is set in the 1580s at the end of over a century of nearly constant warfare. Also, the movie was made just after the end of World War II. It is considered one of the greatest movies of all time; and it has been studied for what it says specifically about the medieval period, but also for what it says more broadly about war, community, family, love, etc. The challenge will be to analyze it as a way to understand Japanese history. So, I’d like for you to read the short chapter on medieval warfare, and to listen to the mini-lecture and then to write a review of the film. If you have the optional guidebook for this class, the guidelines for writing about movies for history classes is in your Pocket Guide on pages 45-48. If you don’t have the book with you here is a short summary of things to think about as you watch:

1. Documentary or feature film? This is a feature film. When was it made?

2. Can you find interviews with the director to see if he cared about historical accuracy?

3. What can you find out about the film’s background and the intentions of the director, screenwriter, etc.?

4. Does the film reflect accurately practices of the time: warrior practices, armor, behaviour of peasants, etc.?

5. What do you think about the filming techniques as they convey messages? (black and white or color, focus on certain things, use of music to enhance the moods of the movie, etc.

6. Structure of the narrative–straightforward or not chronological? Multiple perspectives? (Kurosawa’s most famous movie was called Rashomon; it was a story told from multiple perspectives that gave doubt to the accuracy of each one and gives us the famous phrase “the Rashomon effect.”)

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