Last night instead of watching "The Girl With the Dragon Tattoo" because we didn't start until after 11pm, the family watched "13 Samurai". I chose it based on the two sentence description. In Japanese with subtitles, we decided to give it fifteen minutes not knowing we would be totally mesmerized from start to finish. Thank heaven it was on Netflix so we could pause it to savor and discuss certain scenes, film techniques, the build up of hatred for the main villain, the incredible attention to detail.
I must warn you some scenes are very brutal to watch, as in torture of children, in particular. The harakiri scenes were exceptionally well done. There are both images of beauty and harsh evil that linger in my mind. Apparently, I fell asleep during the ultimate battle at approximately 2am and woke just before the end, my sons asking if I had fallen asleep. I replied, "I thought someone turned all the lights out. I wondered why it was so black in here." Ironically, the use of light plays a recurring and significant role.
This is a movie I would watch again, though earlier in the evening. It reminded me of Rashomon (1950), by Akira Kurosawa, glimpses into another culture, another time, another way of thinking. It was the first time I had understood the concept of samurai loyalty to the shogun eclipsed by loyalty for the good of the people. I can't describe the scenes that would make outstanding paintings, there were too many and words just wouldn't do justice. And as for the subtitles, at times they went by too fast, or were oddly funny considering what was happening in the plot. I'd almost prefer to see it with no subtitles next time, although there were a few choice nodeshells I may borrow.
The director, Takashi Miike is not only prolific but pushes the boundaries of censorship and creativity. In reading up on him, there are probably movies I won't watch, but others I certainly will not sleep through. Random trivia: his favorite movie is Starship Troopers and best quote when asked if he has ever been to a psychiatrist was ..."I go to the dentist not a shrink." Watch the movie.