Seven Samurai (Akira Kurosawa, 1954)
A poor village under attack by bandits recruits seven unemployed samurai to help them defend themselves.
The most popular and known Kurosawa film of all time has just been named the seventeenth best film of all time by the latest Sight and Sound poll (2012). Easily making my top 10 list since I ever saw the damn thing circa ten years ago or so, Akira Kurosawa’s Seven Samurai is the film that set the bar of the action genre. Blending the period drama, the action genre, and the study on human condition, Kurosawa impressed more than one director over the six decades that the movie is old. Following the impression and the writing of my recent review of the soon to be released on Blu-Ray by Criterion Collection Rashômon, I wanted to give to the great Japanese director the recognition this blog should do to him. There are not that many Kurosawa films reviewed here on Le Mot du Cinephiliaque, in the upcoming weeks I’ll try to correct it and give it a spin it deserve.
A village of rice farmers wants to get rid of the looters that come and steal their crops. To achieve that, they hire a band of seven swordsmen to defend themselves. With a length of three and a half hours the placing and the pacing of the story is pitch perfect. This epic length is used by the Japanese master with great efficiency. There is nothing wasted or overused here, Kurosawa tells his story with a flow that is rarely seen and inserts sheer moments of human relationships.
The whole battle sequence shot in the rain and involving so much action and movement is a real “tour de force”. You have to see it to believe it.
There is a lot going on about the outstanding talent of Toshiro Mifune, but the man to observe here is Takashi Shimura as the leader of the magnificent seven. As a father figure and leading presence, Shimura delivers a delightful performance. Even if Japanese acting is an expression of intensity, the entire cast gives a natural aspect to the film.
On a funnier note, the Chevy Chase, Steve Martin, Martin Short feature of Three Amigos is a reference to Kurosawa’s masterpiece. Listing the films that were influenced by Seven Samurai would be an impossible task just to say how it is a cornerstone of Cinema.
Being my favorite Kurosawa since almost a decade, the brilliance and the qualities of Seven Samurai never stop to amaze me. It is a must see and I highly recommend to watch it.