So there’s some good news. And some news that might be bad. And all of it falls under the category of unnamed sources (though from a pretty reputable news outlet). And it’s “in development.” But those of you who are familiar with Samurai 7, an anime miniseries adapted from Akira Kurosawa‘s The Seven Samurai will now be wondering what the heck it could have to do with a Zach Snyder Star Wars movie. Lets answer these questions, shall we?
Vulture published the news today that it has learned that when Zach Snyder said he wasn’t working on Star Wars: Episode VII, it was a bit of a lie of omission:
He is in fact developing a Star Wars project for Lucasfilm that is set within the series’ galaxy, though parallel to the next trilogy. It will be an as-yet-untitled Jedi epic loosely based on Akira Kurosawa’s 1954 classic Seven Samurai, with the ronin and katana being replaced by the Force-wielding knights and their iconic lightsabers.
So. Vulture does not have an official statement from anyone involved, and they say it wouldn’t go into production until after Star Wars VII does, so even if this is all 100% verifiably true, there’s a lot of time there for things to change or be abandoned.
Nevertheless… the mere thought of a Seven Samurai pastiche set in the Star Wars universe featuring Jedi as the ronin samurai of Kurosawa’s original masterpiece, regardless of whether it actually gets made, is one that will keep many geek hearts warm on these cold January nights. (It’s also a bit recursive, considering that George Lucas considers Kurosawa’s work to be one of his biggest influcences.) I know, because I’ve already seen an adaptation of The Seven Samurai where the main characters can slice through robots in a single swipe, and it’s Samurai 7, a lavishly animated series created to get the young folks interested in those crusty old black and white samurai dramas.
While Samurai 7 gets a bit slow in the middle and deviates wildly from its source material in its third act, it retains the original themes of The Seven Samurai. The horror of war, the way that Edo society has set up the peasants and samurai classes to despise and mistrust one another even though they are perhaps each other’s best allies, and, as I once summed it up to a friend “the moral of the story is Everybody Is Wrong.” These are not really themes that Star Wars has tackled in its cinematic portions, at least not with any depth, so that’s a pretty exciting possibility. (And before you start fantasizing over a Seven Sam-jedi where seven Jedi on the run from the Empire post-Revenge of the Sith risk their cover by defending a planet from pirates and are slaughtered heroically by the might of the Imperial forces that catch up with them… Vulture says this one will be set after Return of the Jedi.)
Of course, the question of whether Zach Snyder will be able to provide that sort of depth to a story “loosely based” on The Seven Samurai remains to be seen. As I’ve articulated before, Snyder is very, very good at putting images and sound together, and I mean that in the sense that movies are wholly and exclusively made by putting together images and sounds. What he’s not great at is effectively telling stories, a different, but equally important part of movie making. His most rewatchable movie, in my opinion, is 300, in which the story is nearly incidental. I’m waiting to see whether a collaboration with the Nolans on Man of Steel bears blue and red fruit.
But do I really need a loosely adapted version of The Seven Samurai set in the Star Wars universe to have a transcendent story if it’s already got a simple story about Jedi doing what Jedi do and looking good doing it? I’m going to be honest with you. Right in this moment, I’m not sure.