Friday, August 11, 2017


My grandmother lived in an old farmhouse in Westbrook Maine.

She had served with the Royal Canadian Medical Expedition in the Great War. My grandfather had been a doctor for the allies in France. Mementoes of their meeting in 1916 were scattered throughout the house.

Zeppelin debris was stashed in the desk drawers. Helmets, bayonets, and uniformed hung into the upstairs closet. A mural of a French landscape decorated in their bedroom.

I never met my grandfather. He died a year before my birth.

After two years' exposure to the horrors of war my grandmother hated violence, but in 1960 she pulled me into the living room.

"What did I do wrong?"

My older brother was out on the lawn playing with matches. he was a harmless pyromaniac.

"Nothing, but I want you to watch this film." She turned on the TV. It was 3 on a Saturday afternoon in Westbrook. The men are the mill were working overtime. Boys were meant to be out of the house.

"What is it?" I sat on the couch.

"THE SEVEN SAMURAI," she explained the story about seven Japanese ronin or lordless samurais protecting a peasant village from outlaws.

"That sounds like THE MAGNIFICENT SEVEN." I had seen the cowboy movie at the Cornwall Drive-In with my family. I loved Steve McQueen.

"Hollywood stole the story from Japan." My grandmother sat down, as the opening credits appeared in Japanese.

"Japan?" Our one-time enemy only made transistor radios.


Horses rumbled across the screen. There was a small village. Battles were fought with ruthlessness. I read the subtitles.

"What are samurais?"

"These are knights without a king. They owe nothing to anyone other than honor. Watch."

I obeyed her command and my older brother came into the living room.


My grandmother pointed to the sofa.

For the next three hours we were transported from a Maine paper mill town to rural Japan and I understood that the Japs were people just like anyone and that meant that everyone was like everyone. It was a great lesson for a young boy and even today.

To View the trailer of SHICHININ NO SAMURAI, please go to the following URL

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