Anthony's Film Review
Seven Samurai (1954)
Akira Kurosawa's samurai epic is truly an amazing masterpiece...
Even with a running time of 3 hours and 27 minutes, Seven Samurai does not include a single dull second. Every moment, from the presentation of the title "Seven Samurai" and opening credits to the final shot that says "The End," is worth taking in and should not be missed. There is great cinematography, memorable characters, an engaging story, and simple yet effective dialogue that will surely excite any movie lover. The film is THAT good. Director Akira Kurosawa is THAT good.
Seven Samurai takes place in 16th-century Japan, focusing primarily on an impoverished village where its inhabitants have been oppressed by bandits. The situation has gotten to the point where the villagers have run low on food to give to the bandits in return for their own lives. Desperate for a solution, these pacifistic villagers, based on the guidance of the village elder, seek out samurai who are willing to help defend the village against the bandits.
Although some samurai reject the opportunity to fight for a good cause rather than for wealth and glory, one comes to the villagers' aid after saving a kidnapped child. He is Kambei Shimada, who is experienced yet wary of the costs of fighting. Soon, he enlists six other samurai to join the fight, including the young and eager Katsushiro Okamoto, the serious-looking Kyzuo, and the impulsive false samurai Kikuchiyo who nevertheless proves himself to be useful. Kambei, acting as leader, determines that seven is the optimal number after studying the terrain and realizing that bandits could attack the village from any direction.
From there, the samurai lead the villagers to build defenses against the bandits and train them to fight with wooden spears. With everything they do, the villagers are taught to work together in cohesive groups. Along the way, other interesting moments occur. For example, Katsushiro takes an interest in a peasant girl named Shino, whose father is very protective of her. Also, a few villagers become angry when their homes have to be abandoned as part of the defense strategy. Every event in the story touches on various themes, such as sacrifice for the common good, the costs of ongoing war, and the honor of helping those in need.
Seven Samurai has many ways to engage the audience, and it does each of them well and thoroughly. This is why it's a masterpiece epic. Kurosawa really lets the audience slowly experience the film. It's like the difference between a quick meal and a relaxing meal. Whereas some films deliver themselves relatively quickly so that we get the gist of what's going on, Seven Samurai gives us plenty of time to take it all in. It's no wonder that many subsequent films, such as the Western film The Magnificent Seven, owe it to Akira Kurosawa and Seven Samurai. Anyone who wants to truly experience the best of cinema should definitely not overlook the sheer genius of this film and its director.
For more information about Seven Samurai, visit the Internet Movie Database.