There aren't many movies made as long ago as this one that don't seem dated at all. It helps that the movie takes place in 16th century Japan (so there aren't cues such as cars or clothing to tip you off as to when it was made), but there is really very little that could be done to make this movie any better. Kurosawa had all the necessary tools at his disposal.
If this movie were made by Hollywood (today) it would've been crammed into about 120 minutes, had a lot of gratuitous scenes of men being impaled with bright red guts spewing out, and there would have been at least one "explicit" sex scene. But none of that is really necessary for this great film and it is probably better without them. The violence seems very real and not fakey like in some other older movies.
Despite its length, this film was very gripping. Midway through the first half I felt like it was going a bit slow, but it soon picked up and held me through the end. The general formula has been used so many times before that I knew full well how it was going to end, but despite the lack of surprises I felt very involved and riveted to the screen.
This really wasn't a dialog-driven film, and I didn't feel like conversations were all that impressive, but this may be mostly to do with the fact that I was reading the subtitles and not natively understanding the Japanese. The actors all play their parts well, and it is surprising that I was able to keep track of so many characters and not feel confused at all. It didn't feel convoluted.
The reason this film was great when it was made, it is great today, and it will continue to be great in the future is the fact that it keys in on universal themes that will always be present: the archetypal good vs. evil, honor, war, relations between men and women, parents and children, wives and husbands, individuals and their communities, and even attitudes that groups of professions hold for each other (military vs. farmers, for example). I'm sure you can find many other themes to add to this list as you watch.
I watched the 208 minute VHS version and haven't seen any others. I can't imagine that the 141 minute version can feel like a coherent whole.
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