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Legendary Japanese director Akira Kurosawa's masterpiece, "The Seven Samurai" ("Shichinin no samurai"), 1954, is one of the most influential and epic samurai films ever! When a simple village of poor rice farmers is besieged yearly by a group of marauding bandits set on stealing their crop, the village decides to hire samurai warriors to defend their village and defeat the bandits. The only problem for this poor village is the only thing they have to offer the noble samurai who come to their aid is…rice. Fortunately, they come across Kambei Shimada (Takashi Shimura), a brave, experienced, and selfless samurai who agrees to help the village. With him they are able to recruit seven samurai warriors including the young and inexperienced Katsushiro (Isao Kimura) and the wild Kikuchiyo (played by Toshirô Mifune, one of the most popular samurai film actors and Kurosawa regulars). Now with the seven samurai all together and under the leadership of Kambei, the battle begins! The film, “Seven Samurai” has been the influence for the western “The Magnificent Seven” (1960 directed by John Sturges), the Disney/Pixar movie “A Bug’s Life” and also the recent Japanese anime series “Samurai 7.” This is a classic film for any film fanatic and a must for any samurai film fan!
First things first, this is a LONG movie, clocking it at around 220 minutes, but strangely it never seems to drag. Some movies are short, yet feel like they last for hours. This movie was the complete opposite, it really zipped by thanks to an excellent plot, superb directing and fantastic acting by everyone involved. A village in Japan is constantly attacked by Bandits every year. The villagers decide to fight back by hiring a group of Samurai to protect them. This is not as easy as it sounds when all you can offer in payment is three meals a day. A veteran Samurai takes pity on the villagers and agrees to help them, in turn he recruits more men to his cause until there are "Seven Samurai" or rather five samurai, a trainee and a crazy person.
The movie is divided into two "halves" the first being the villagers recruiting the Samurai and then the Samurai training the villagers into being capable of protecting themselves. The second part is the battle with the bandits. For an epic movie there is a fair amount of comedy, thanks to the involvement of Toshirô Mifune who plays the role of the crazy Kikuchiyo to perfection. Sure, he seems like a nut, but underneath all of his insanity lies the heart of a man who wants to help and be respected.
This is a magnificent film in all aspects, here are just two examples of why I think so. In once scene the bandits send three scouts ahead to see what the villagers are up to, the Samurai have to chase them down to stop them reporting back, so they send three of their group to dispatch of the scouts. One of the men is a well respected and trained Samurai, the other is an apprentice with no experience, the third is Kikuchiyo (the unpredictable crazy guy) they arrive where the bandits horses are tied in the woods before the scouts arrive, and they wait.... and wait... and wait. You get a full two minutes of the camera looking at the faces of the three Samurai as they wait for the scouts to arrive. Will the inexperienced one fall apart when the time arrives? will the crazy one do something unpredictable to endanger his friends, can the leader of the group hold things together? It's a simple process, but because Kurosowa leaves the camera on them so masterfully, the tension builds and builds and builds as the men wait for the scouts to arrive. It's simple, yet genius.
In another scene, the Samurai burn down the bandits huts to take some of them out in a preemptive attack. Inside a hut, there are various women who have been captured and are slaves of the bandits. One of the women sees the fire start, and looks at it in fear. Then looks at the bandits, knowing that if she tells them of the fire, she can escape, but she also knows that if she does not tell them, she will die and so will they, and that is a better fate than being held captive by them. All of this takes place in about ten seconds on a womans face. She never speaks, but you KNOW what she is thinking. Once again, simple but genius.
You really owe it to yourself to watch this classic piece of cinema.
I normally do not watch old, black and white movies, especially if they are over 2 hour long or need an introduction. However, I was stunned by the quality of all aspects of this movie. Everything from the story, characters, and plot twists to the shooting angles and film quality is marvelous.
The characters are surprinsgly unique and likeable; each character (from the seven samurai, to the villagers, to even some of the bandits) have unique traits and defects that make them memorable. Without going into too much detail, each characters present and past lives are intertwined and mysterious, and add greatly to the overall storytelling in such an intriguing way it's nearly impossible to describe.
The samurai themselves are worth the price of admission alone. Some are serious, some are happy-go-lucky. Some are young, and some are old. Some are hesitant to fight again, and others are more than ready to prove their worth; all of the samurai, however, have their own reasons for taking on what is considered to be a suicide, worthless mission.
The villagers themselves add another layer of complexity to the overal scheme. While they know the dangers that a roving pack of bandits poses to their village, they fear and distrust the samurai, some for reasons that aren't immediately clear. It's a love/hate relationship, and eventually the viewer finds out that the village has a very dark secret pertaining to samurai...
All in all, this movie has everything you could want. The directing is masterful, the camerawork is beautiful, and the actors are simply amazing. There is action, romance, intrigue, dark secrets, and tough choices. Only a movie of a nearly flawless caliber could hold my attention for three hours (in black and white, no less!), but Seven Samurai had me riveted the entire time.
I highly suggest it, it's a definite must-see.
This is one of the greatest films. Period. See it.
This edition restores the length of the original (back to over three hours) and should be on the shelf of anyone who claims to be a student of film (or who just loves movies). I believe there is also a new Criterion edition which further restores the quality of the images, but this is perfectly acceptable.
For someone who sees this movie for the first time, but has seen lots of other classic Hollywood movies, you'll notice where many of the others got their inspiration. Most obviously, the Magnificent Seven sets the action in the old West South of the Border. But many other directors and films have been influenced by Seven Samurai.
If three hours seems a bit daunting, remember that the DVD releases of the Lord of the Rings series are of equal length. Plus, the DVD retains the original Intermission notice, so you can go to the bathroom and refill your popcorn, just like audiences did fifty years ago.
Another amazing classic movie by Akira Kurosawa! The 1954 movie Seven Samurai is one of the best movies out there. A story about a village by the name of Kana. Kana's crops are stolen by bandits after every harvest. They soon seek help in a bustling town. Seven of the most brave samurai defend the village from the bandits for no fame and a few bowls of rice. Despite no fame or money these samurai have their own reasons to defend others. In this 3-disc edition you get to see the making of the movie interviews with Akira Kurosawa and tons of other extras and of course the legendary film itself. I HIGHLY recommend this movie.