Martin Teller's Movie Reviews

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The Magnificent Seven

Posted by martinteller on April 11, 2010

As a huge fan of Seven Samurai for the past 15 years, I guess it’s weird that I didn’t get to this sooner.  I’m slightly wary of remakes in general, but this is a prime example of how to do it right.  Sturges brilliantly recontextualizes the story as a Western, keeping certain elements completely intact (some scenes are almost exact duplicates) and rejiggering as he sees fit.  Some of these changes are to the characters.  One is greedy, another is a bit of a coward.  The Daisuke Kato character (the young protege with a romantic outlook) gets completely rolled up into the Toshiro Mifune character.  This is the change I most strongly object to, as I think the naive Kato character is perfectly suited for this setting.  Horst Buchholz makes a rather poor substitute for Mifune, but those are big shoes to fill.  What I really liked was the increased focus on the villain, which not only fits the Western genre more, but gives the delightful Eli Wallach some time to shine.  The most drastic change is in the third act, which puts the heroes in an entirely different situation.  I find this neither better nor worse, but a perfectly valid direction to take.  The widescreen color photography is wonderful, and even with all the big names on display (Brynner, McQueen, Coburn, Bronson, Vaughan) the real star is Elmer Bernstein.  His score is one of the best I’ve ever heard, and the iconic main theme is unforgettable (it was actually in my head before I even started the movie).  Although the film does feel a bit lighter and more “Hollywoodized” than Kurosawa’s masterpiece, I really enjoyed the ways in which Sturges both pays tribute to the original, and the ways he deviates from it.  Far more than I expected to.  Rating: 9


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