Seven Samurai (1954)

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  • user warning: Can't open file: 'cache.MYI' (errno: 145) query: UPDATE cache SET data = '<div style=\"text-align: center\"><strong><font size=\"6\" color=\"#cc0000\"><img class=\"image preview\" src=\"/guts/files/images/1001.JPG\" border=\"0\" width=\"432\" height=\"112\" /> </font></strong></div>\n<div style=\"text-align: center\"><strong><font size=\"6\" color=\"#cc0000\">KICKIN&#39; IT KUROSAWA!</font></strong></div>\n<div style=\"text-align: center\"><img class=\"image preview\" src=\"/guts/files/images/seven_samurai01_800.jpg\" border=\"0\" alt=\"Seven cool dudes\" title=\"Seven cool dudes\" width=\"432\" height=\"324\" /><em><br /><font size=\"1\">Six classic cool dudes... and Mifune buffo in /guts/includes/database.mysql.inc on line 120.
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KICKIN' IT KUROSAWA!
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)
Aftertaste:

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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