Seven Samurai (1954)

Seven cool dudes
Six classic cool dudes... and Mifune buffooney

Genre: Period Samurai Action Adventure Drama (Japan)

Starring: Takashi Shimura (IkiruThe Bad Sleep Well), Toshirô Mifune (Rashomon Samurai Rebellion)

Directed By: Akira Kurosawa (DreamsThe Lower Depths)

Overview: A poor farming village plagued by bandits hires samurai to defend it.


I recently learned, while reading his autobiography, that Akira Kurosawa is descendant from a line of former samurai. It comes as no surprise, therefore, that one of his most famous films (and the one I most associate with The Emperor), is about not just one but seven of them.

The story is simple, spaghetti western simple, but what sets it apart from the rest is that it's one of the most ambitious productions of its time. A three and a half hour epic with a nearly unheard of budget by Japanese standards, all starring a veteran cast and crew who are now legendary.

Seven Samurai's forte is in its ability to take the time to explore every relevant moment and character dynamic without being rushed. Believe it or not, this film was the first to include the subplot of gathering a team to prepare for a mission.

Seven Samurai takes its time in introducing each character, each is tested individually, and finally when all are gathered, they trek out to the village.  Once there, we explore the fear and glory that they inspire before they ever draw a blade against a foe.

A little bit of everything for everyone
A little bit of everything for everyone

What do you think of farmers? You think they're saints? Hah! They're foxy beasts! They say, "We've got no rice, we've no wheat. We've got nothing!" But they have! They have everything! Dig under the floors! Or search the barns! You'll find plenty! Beans, salt, rice, sake! Look in the valleys, they've got hidden warehouses! They pose as saints but are full of lies! If they smell a battle, they hunt the defeated! They're nothing but stingy, greedy, blubbering, foxy, and mean! God damn it all! But then who made them such beasts? You did! You samurai did it! You burn their villages! Destroy their farms! Steal their food! Force them to labour! Take their women! And kill them if they resist! So what should farmers do? 
- Kikuchiyo

Still, with all the cerebral going on, the actual defence of the village and the tactics that surround them is elaborate, from fortifications and gaps to lure the enemy to surprise attacks and all-out hand-to-hand combat in the rain, the skirmishes Kurosawa shows us are both exciting and treacherous. Because our group of seven isn't super-heroic, we're made aware of the fallibility of these professionals and the great cost to the village should they lose.

Mean Toshiro!
Mean Tôshiro Grrr!

Performance: 9 Cinematography: 9 Script: 8 Plot: 9 Mood: 9

Overall Rating: 88% (7th Heaven)

IMDb users rate this one as the 11th best film ever made on their Top 250 List, and the reasons for that are plentiful. Seven Samurai is certainly Samurai cannon, and those who extol the virtues of the genre but haven't gotten around to seeing this... it's like going off about Western without having seen The Good, The Bad, and the Ugly. It's just awkward.

More than this, Seven Samurai is entertaining, worthy repertoire for anyone who wants to study ground-breaking, milestone-reaching film.

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Someone just pointed this out to me: <b>Rei Kurosawa (the series' first male lead)</b>, Kei Amakura and Miku Hinasaki, the main character from the original. Rei Kurosawa is female. (She's the girl with the short hair) Kei Amakura is the series first male lead. A lot of people have been mixing those ...

The camera use is brilliant and every scene is balanced visually. This film is also the first one to use "the wipe" as a way of changing from one scene to another. This technique was later used by George Lucas in his Star Wars movies. I would also recommend the DVD version that has the commentary option by the Japanese cinema expert if anyone is interested in a deeper understanding of the "hows" and "whys" of Kurosawa's film making. Any man, woman, boy or girl who just wants to see a really, really great movie, THIS IS THE ONE! An A+++ in my book

Seven Samurai remains one of the best movies of all time.  If you have not seen it yet, PLEASE DO!

I rented this from Netflix way back when I was first getting into Asian film, and I think I had it for months before I finally sat down and watched it. Boy am I glad I did!

Whenever anyone asks me what my favorite film is I always respond with "Seven Samurai." It should be noted that the film was remade into the American western "The Magnificent Seven." Just as Leone remade "Yojimbo" into "A Fistful of Dollars."

As far as the Lucas-Kurosawa connection:
Every fan knows how much Lucas took from Kurosawa. As commented above, Lucas is the only filmmaker I've even seen who uses the wipe transition in much the same way Kurosawa used it.
Lucas even added a "Seven Samurai" reference in "Revenge of the Sith." During a battle scene, Yoda mimics Shimura's motion of taking his hand and rubbing his shaved head. It's difficult to miss and Lucas fully admitted that it was a direct reference to "Seven Samurai."

Great film site!

funny only guys seem to be interested in this film. it was ok, i prefer Sanshiro Sugata...did you know the director paints the story boards himself? was trained as a painter...

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