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20

FRIDAY

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Fans may forever argue whether Seven Samurai is Akira Kurosawa’s best movie, but it’s certainly his grandest: A three-and-a-half-hour battle epic that combines action, humor, humanism, and a critique of Japanese class structure, the film introduced the director’s technique of shooting with telephoto lenses and multiple cameras, allowing for complex and rhythmic editing schemes. The tale of seven ragged warriors—six ronin and one outright pretender—who join together to protect a village from bandits turns 50 this year, which is the occasion for this revival booking. No justification is required, however: Seven Samurai is simply a pleasure to watch, without a moment that drags. Although the acting is stylized, drawing on Noh and Kabuki, the characterizations are universal, and they’re especially relevant to the Western: The movie was remade as The Magnificent Seven and presages the antiheroic cowboy flick that expressed the mood of the ’60s. The film screens at 7:15 p.m. (see Showtimes for other dates) at the American Film Institute’s Silver Theatre and Cultural Center, 8633 Colesville Road, Silver Spring. $8.50. (301) 495-6700. (Mark Jenkins)