Oh yes… I remember the equivalent meltdown/diatribe from the real Mifune in the original SEVEN SAMURAI. It was always hard to tell if my reaction to the scene was the one Kurosawa intended to provoke in the viewer. I can imagine the audience of the time and place taking it in as some piece of Brando-style, swarthy, blue collar insight. To me, however, it drew to mind any number of schoolroom scenarios where somebody in class is trying embarrassingly hard to draw attention to themselves whilst grasping at profound thoughts that are obviously way, way beyond their understanding.
Maybe it was unintentional comedy. Maybe Kurosawa really was going for some genuine awkwardness to fit in between the generally on-the-mark statements of the rest of the samurai. It’s open to interpretation with the original film, but here, I’ve got to believe that the crew saw the scene exactly as I did and opted to exaggerate it to - - dare I say - - cartoonish levels.
And frankly, that’s all more interesting. As I’ve said about villains you genuinely hate seeing on screen, it’s hard to write characters acting stupidly in your story without your construction coming across as stupid, itself. And I’ve really been enjoying the low-key office politics going on between these warriors. Steadfast Field Engineer Heihachi comes across as a bit of jerk, for example, in how he teases the traitor and his daughter about execution - - but nobody’s really going to correct him about because it’ll harm their position with the peasants.
While we’re contrasting this with SEVEN SAMURAI and the respective contents of each project, I have to say that the romance between Timberlake-like novice and the peasant princess has been far better realized here, so far. The way it was handled in the original felt like some out-of-place bait to appeal to “teenage interests.” It came from left field, and felt more like they just discovered that their rookie was being an idiot and fooling around with one of the locals. Here, it’s a much more effective romance, with the characters actually having sharing a mutual intelligence about what could be a genuinely nurturing relationship.
Yeah, I’ll go ahead and say it - - the part where the girl offers to kiss his blood stains away was touching! It was a tender moment of otherwise icky intimacy; not something grossly fetishistic like the spit swapping in MYSTERIOUS GIRLFRIEND X.