In Medieval Japan, an elderly warlord retires, handing over his empire to his three sons. However, he vastly underestimates how the new-found power will corrupt them and cause them to turn on each other...and him.
A veteran samurai, who has fallen on hard times, answers a village's request for protection from bandits. He gathers 6 other samurai to help him, and they teach the townspeople how to defend themselves, and they supply the samurai with three small meals a day. The film culminates in a giant battle when 40 bandits attack the village. Written by
Colin Tinto <email@example.com>
For the scene in which Gisaku's mill is burned down by the bandits, the crew initially covered the mill in fabric in order to light it on fire without burning the entire structure, the theory being that they could then keep shooting at the location without destroying the mill. Ultimately, according to assistant art director Yoshirô Muraki, this made the set "soggy" and future takes only produced smoke, not fire. In the end, the mill was rebuilt and burned down three times in order to get all of the footage Akira Kurosawa needed. See more »
At one point in the English translation of the Criterion edition, one of the characters makes reference to "playing possum," Opossums are only found in the Western Hemisphere, and would have been unknown to medieval Japan except possibly by a few scholars. See more »
Story-telling at its finest, "Seven Samurai" is a terrific film not because of a handful of memorable scenes or lines, but rather because scene-by-scene, frame-by-frame, it tells an interesting story as well as it is possible to tell it. The story and characters are developed carefully, and everything about the movie, from the settings and props to the musical score, is done carefully and expertly.
Mifune grabs the attention in most of his scenes, and Shimura's more restrained character is a nice balance. Those two have the best parts, but all seven of the samurai are memorable characters. The sequence of events that collects the seven together occupies the first part of the movie, and forms a perfect foundation for the rest. A few of the villagers are also portrayed nicely, although they are naturally overshadowed when the samurai are around.
The story always moves along nicely, with many ups and downs. It has enough unpredictability to keep you interested the whole time, without ever losing its credibility. There is plenty of action, but there is also substance behind the action to give it more significance. The only possible drawback is the long running time (you can always split it up into two installments, but it's more satisfying if you can watch the whole story through at once), but there is little that you could cut out, even if you wanted to. It holds your attention the entire time with a good story and great technique, not by resorting to sensational or sordid details.
This movie well deserves its reputation for excellence, and is one that everyone who appreciates classic cinema will want to see and enjoy.
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