February 22nd, 2007

Kambei (The Seven Samurai)

Kikuchiyo's Mambo

I was inspired by this thread on the FSM Message Board to create a Film Music Drinking Game!!! So, in collaboration with lehah and melancthe and additional suggestions from glenniebun...

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Cross Posted to filmscore

I've been listening to Fumio Hayasaka's score for Seven Samurai. It is interesting that some film scores such as this one, Howard Shore's Lord of the Rings or Basil Poledouris' Conan the Barbarian (the latter of which actually has a few cues that are direct hommages to The Seven Samurai) don't so much as emphasize screen action as they do tell the stories in a musical medium. When this happens, listening to the score can sometimes give one further insight into the film itself. One of my favorite bits is Kikuchiyo's theme; while the other titular Samurai are all represented by the primary brass fanfare, Kikuchiyo is, of course, not really Samurai. He is treated by the score as a villager, many of whom get themes, such as the low vocal lines for Rikichi or the yearning theme for Shino.

The cue "Kambei's Anger" also made me think of how that character is presented throughout the film. He is, of course, the embodiment of the Bushido code (although both Gorobei and Kyuzo rival him for compassion), but while he is introduced performing an act of violence, it is nevertheless occurs off screen. The scene where some of the people whose houses are being sacrificed for the good of the entire village attempt to revolt and he draws his katana and corrals them back is, in fact, the first time we ever actually see him as a figure of danger. However... it occurs after Kikuchiyo's outburst which reveals to the Samurai that the villagers are not quite as meek and helpless as they originally seemed to be.

This is the third year running that I didn't make any fun of Catholics on Ash Wednesday.