Seven Samurai (1953)

June 14, 2017

I wanted to check out Akira Kurosawa’s films, and many regard Seven Samurai as his best work.

Kurosawa is a legendary Japanese filmmaker, revered worldwide for his works. I had heard his name only in passing, sometimes a certain American filmmaker would mention him in an interview.

Seven Samurai feels like a perfect film. It’s got everything. Humor, heartbreak, battles, scenery, different characters, forbidden love, meaning.

Kurosawa tells the story of seven rag tag samurais who join forces to help protect a group of poor farmers constantly harassed by thieves and bandits.

The movie is in black and white with English subtitles. Like movies of the past, this one is also very long. Three hours and twenty six minutes.

Being short attention spanned, it took me about three days to finish, barely making the cut for the online rental period. It’s doubly hard since you have to actively read along rather than passively watch.

Still, the movie is very elegant.

The story of struggle and heroism is universal yet we get a unique view of how tough life was back in the day.

Farmers were poor and defenseless. They had to toil all their lives in the fields and live in constant fear.

Thieves and bandits took their food and women as they pleased.

Samurais were the warrior class. They were mercenaries who required adequate compensation for their services and liked fighting for honor. They lived and died by the code, like Klingons. Some goodhearted warriors are shown in this film.

All the dozens of actors, even the extras, were pitch perfect in their roles. It really felt like someone captured real life rather than people pretending to play characters.

The same actor from Gojira, the scientist, is also in this film as the lead role. That was a pleasant surprise.

The movie is neither happy nor sad, though it leans more towards the latter. I guess human struggle & war don’t make for a happy ending. There’s a heavy price to pay even in victory.

Seven Samurai is definitely worth a watch to see this legendary filmmaker’s masterpiece.

The Magnificent Seven, both 1960 & 2016 American films, were based on this Japanese original.

I plan on checking out the rest of Kurosawa’s work.

Seven Samurai