Seven Samurai

"Essential"

Seven Samurai Review


There's probably no point heaping more praise on Seven Samurai after 52 years worth of critics have already done so, but what the hell, here's a little more love for the film.

Akira Kurosawa had about a decade of work -- nothing you've likely heard of -- under his belt by 1954, when he stormed the world with this masterpiece. 3 1/2 hours long, it's a western with a feudal 1600s Japanese sensibility, a format he'd return to frequently. But here it's at its simple best. Some may claim Seven Samurai is complex, but that's hardly truthful: It's about a village of farmers, who learn of an impending attack by bandits intent to rob them of their barley crop... again. They decide to fight back by recruiting seven samurai to teach them to fight, protect the village, and slay the bandits for good. Some will be heroes, some will perish. But we know all along that our samurai will win the day for the village somehow. And that's the gist.

Perhaps the most brilliant part of the film has nothing to do with its action scenes, pacing, script, or photography (all of which are top notch). It's the characters that stand out so memorably. Young Shino (Keiko Tsushima), who seems to be falling for one of the local farmgirls, jeopardizing the battle. The wise leader Shimada (Takashi Shimura). And of course the show-stealing Toshirô Mifune, playing an arrogant and uncontrollable ronin looking to outdo his compatriots and get as much glory as possible.

As the samurai interact and, eventually, do battle with the bandits, we get to know and understand them. And yet not a lot of dialogue is spent in Seven Samurai. Kurosawa is much more likely to let a panorama or some swordplay do the talking, as all good westerns should.

My only complaints are slight: That Samurai has some choppy parts in the beginning that could have been helpfully edited down, and the film's romantic subplot is difficult to fully understand without deep knowledge of 1600s Japanese courting customs. No biggies, really. You won't have time to care about it. The movie sucks you in so thoroughly you're actually pissed when you have to swap in a new disc during intermission. (Remember... 3 1/2 hours.)

Criterion has just reissued Samurai (spine number 2!) on a three-disc DVD set with a load of extras: two audio commentaries, a lengthy making-of featurette, a two-hour interview with Kurosawa, and a documentary about the samurai of the era. Plus you get all the usual stills, trailers, essays, and more, all bound up in a handsome package. Highly recommended.

Aka Shichinin no samurai.

One's missing.



Seven Samurai

Facts and Figures

Run time: 207 mins

In Theaters: Monday 19th November 1956

Box Office Worldwide: $269.1 thousand

Budget: $500 thousand

Distributed by: Columbia Pictures

Production compaines: Toho Company

Reviews

Contactmusic.com: 5 / 5

Rotten Tomatoes: 100%
Fresh: 57

IMDB: 8.7 / 10

Cast & Crew

Director:

Producer:

Starring: as Kikuchiyo, as Kambei Shimada, Yoshio Inaba as Gorobei Katayama, Seiji Miyaguchi as Kyuzo, Minoru Chiaki as Heihachi Hayashida, Daisuke Katô as Shichiroji, as Katsushiro Okamoto, Keiko Tsushima as Shino, Yukiko Shimazaki as Rikichi's Wife, as Manzô - Father of Shino, Yoshio Kosugi as Mosuke, Bokuzen Hidari as Yohei, as Rikichi, Kokuten Kôdô as Gisaku, the Old Man, Eijirô Tôno as Kidnapper, Jun Tatara as Coolie A, Atsushi Watanabe as Bun Seller, Toranosuke Ogawa as Grandfather of Kidnapped Girl, Isao Yamagata as Samurai, as Bandit Scout

Contactmusic


Links



Advertisement

New Movies

Colossal Movie Review

Colossal Movie Review

It's rare to find a movie that so defiantly refuses to be put into a...

King Arthur: Legend of the Sword Movie Review

King Arthur: Legend of the Sword Movie Review

It's unlikely that Guy Ritchie could make a boring movie if he wanted to. This...

Snatched Movie Review

Snatched Movie Review

It doesn't really matter that the script for this lively action-comedy is paper thin: teaming...

Jawbone Movie Review

Jawbone Movie Review

Boxing movies aren't usually this thoughtful. Sure, there are plenty of punchy moments in the...

Whisky Galore! Movie Review

Whisky Galore! Movie Review

Scottish filmmaker Gillies MacKinnon (Hideous Kinky) remakes the 1949 Ealing comedy classic, although it's difficult...

Alien: Covenant Movie Review

Alien: Covenant Movie Review

Master filmmaker Ridley Scott is back to continue the story 10 years after the events...

The Journey (2017) Movie Review

The Journey (2017) Movie Review

A fictionalised account of real events, this drama is reminiscent of Peter Morgan's work in...

Advertisement
Sleepless Movie Review

Sleepless Movie Review

In remaking the 2011 French thriller Sleepless Night, the filmmakers have dumbed down both the...

Unlocked Movie Review

Unlocked Movie Review

By injecting a steady sense of fun, this slick but mindless action thriller both holds...

Lady Macbeth Movie Review

Lady Macbeth Movie Review

A seriously impressive feature directing debut with a star-making central performance, this period British drama...

Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2 Movie Review

Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2 Movie Review

It was never going to be easy to match the impact of 2014's Guardians of...

The Promise Movie Review

The Promise Movie Review

The director of Hotel Rwanda, Terry George, turns to another humanitarian horror: the systematic murder...

Their Finest Movie Review

Their Finest Movie Review

Skilfully written, directed and acted, this offbeat British period film tells a story that catches...

Unforgettable Movie Review

Unforgettable Movie Review

With heavy echoes of trashy thrillers like Fatal Attraction, this movie overcomes its painfully simplistic...

Advertisement
Artists
Actors
    Filmmakers
      Artists
      Bands
        Musicians
          Artists
          Celebrities
             
              Artists
              Interviews
                musicians & bands in the news
                  actors & filmmakers in the news
                    celebrities in the news

                      Go Back in Time using our News archive to see what happened on a particular day in the past.