ScreennPride and Prejudice and Cliche PeoplenKagemusha (The Shadow Warrior);nWritten and directed by Akira Kurosawa;nTwentieth Century Fox.nPrivate Benjamin; Written by NancynMeyers, Charles Shyer and HarveynMiller; Directed by Howard Zieff;nWarner Brothers.nOrdinary People; Screenplay by AlvinnSargent; Directed by RobertnRedford; Paramount Pictures.nby Eric ShapearonWe no longer make movies likenKagemusha in this country; in Americaneven tragedy, these days, is expressednthrough shrillness, through a big bangnof explosions, through bestiality andncruelty as the only catalysts of humannterminal conditions. But Akira Kurosawa,nthe old master, once again hasncome up with a cinematic rendition ofnultimate circumstances, epic truths andnmartial fate—and he has done it withoutngore, using instead a reflectiveness thatnopens literary vistas long absent fromnAmerican movie-making.nIt’s a film about pride. Not vanity, butnthat subtle pride which is the essence ofnhuman dignity, an ingredient withoutnwhich history cannot be made and peoplenshould not live and, in fact, cannotnlive meaningfully. A 16th-century Japanesenwarlord, a man of uncommon skillnand moral attitude who is engaged in ancomplicated struggle for power with twonother contenders, decides to establish anmyth of invincibility for his clan by procuringna double in case of his death. Hisnfallacious existence on earth is to benprovided by a petty thief, a being of thenlowest social and moral rung who wasnchosen for the simple reason of his physicalnsimilarity. Yet when the warlord actuallynis killed during a siege, his impersonatornundergoes a deeply movingntransmutation. He begins to yearn fornsomething better, something more, fornsome moral and emotional substancenwhich is far from material and sensualnsatisfactions, one which hovers somewherenin a sphere of experiences andnsensations alien, even closed, to himnin his natural environment.nKurosawa opens his movie with a longnstatic episode, a dialogue between twonpersons who sit in the Oriental mannernon the floor, and a third one—thenprospective double—who follows, withntrepidation, a calm, slow discourse thatnwill determine his fate. The motionlessnessnof the sequence would seem to killnany attempt at drama; yet Kurosawa,nhere as in Rashomon, weaves a peculiar,nargumentative tapestry of words andnphrases whose cinematic beauty can benfound in neither pictorial artistry nor actionnnor mobility, nor even in the excellencenof acting—but somewhere elsenin the hard-to-define realm of interrelationsnbetween the audience and thenmovie itself. Among Western directors,nperhaps only Ingmar Bergman and, lately,nMichael Cimino, have moments thatntouch upon that specific dimension ofnfilm-making.nKagemusha is not limited to dramaticnmultidimensionality or an in-depthnstudy of humanness—a paradoxical observation,nto be sure. The tensions ofnthe existential complexities are followednby a monumental spectacle—the superbnLiberal CulturenBest MindsnThe battle between the Ancientsnand Moderns rages on. AnnApple Computer Inc. advertisementnfor its personal computersnscores a major triumph. The ad’snnnJapanese visualness of things, landscapes,nshapes, hues, textures, the invasionnof graphic forms and colors, drawingnthis time from military traditionsnwithin which generals, chieftains andngreat leaders write poems instead ofnorders of the day and sing and dancenat strategy sessions. Some months ago,nAmerica marveled at the televisionnminiseries “Shogun,” mesmerized bynthe subtle beauty of Japanese visualnparaphernalia of daily life; next to Kagemusha,nthe television production looksnlike a Hallmark store juxtaposed withnthe Louvre.nPrivate Benjamin is a dreary, humorless,npretentious, heavy-handed movienwhich most reviewers have hailed as andelightful comedy. How they could havencome up with such a verdict, or impression,ncan only be explained by eithernfinancial expediency or absolute tastelessness.nHaving no proof for the former,nwe must settle for the latter. This,nof course, exposes us to many—perhapsndeserved—accusations such as cheapndemagoguery or utter disloyalty towardncolleagues. We reject the former and wendon’t mind the latter.nPerhaps in its original idea PrivatenBenjamin was supposed to be a comedy.nA feminist comedy, that is, which is ancontradiction in terms. No one ever hasnheadline proclaims: “Jeffersonnhad one of the best minds ofn1776, but today you can makenbetter decisions with an Apple.”nWe can’t wait to hear what thenApple people have to say aboutnLincoln’s conscience and TeddynRoosevelt’s guts. They’re certainlynplanning to say something,nif only to stay in business.n(GSV) DnJanuary/Fcbrttary 1981n