Saturday, October 9, 2010

Seven Samurai (1954)

Director: Akira Kurosawa. Cast: Toshirô Mifune, Takashi Shimura, Isao Kimura. 207 min. War. Japan.

Is an uneducated person like me allowed to even admire such a classic? And where do I start? The film's engaging story? Mifune's incredible tragic/comedic performance? Kurosawa's meticulous plotting of the smallest details? Shimura's awe-inspiring Ben Kenobi-like presence? Or the film's audacity to delve into some very modern social concepts, while the setting is in the 1600s? A few words from Ebert should give an idea about the enormity of such a masterpiece:

"... This was the first film in which a team is assembled to carry out a mission--an idea which gave birth to its direct Hollywood remake, "The Magnificent Seven," as well as "The Guns of Navarone," "The Dirty Dozen" and countless later war, heist and caper movies. Since Kurosawa's samurai adventure "Yojimbo" (1960) was remade as "A Fistful of Dollars" and essentially created the spaghetti Western, and since this movie and Kurosawa's "The Hidden Fortress" inspired George Lucas' "Star Wars" series, it could be argued that this greatest of filmmakers gave employment to action heroes for the next 50 years, just as a fallout from his primary purpose.

" ... Shimura's Kambei is the veteran warrior, who in an early scene shaves his head to disguise himself as a priest in order to enter a house where a hostage is being held. Did this scene create the long action-movie tradition of opening sequences in which the hero wades into a dangerous situation unrelated to the later plot?"

Nuff said. Sometimes there are movies out there, you feel embarrassed to have called yourself a cinephile before you'd seen them.

(PS: So this is where Star Wars' "rolling" scene cuts came from!)

Mo says:


  1. I always loved “Magnificent Seven “ as one of my best favorites ,however, in comparison to original plot in Seven Samurai ,I think it situated in lower level. After watching more than 2 hours , movie never gets boring and makes audience tired.
    I liked that quote when Kambei Shimada introduced himself to Katsushiro as a student

    “You embarrass me. You're overestimating me. Listen, I'm not a man with any special skill, but I've had plenty of experience in battles; losing battles, all of them”

    And final famous quote when he emphasized such defeat :
    “: The farmers have won. We have lost.”

    And when Shmada quarreled with Mifone due he attacked the enemy individually and returned successfully :
    " It’s Team , you’re never allowed to act out of the Team!"

  2. Actually, the concept of "you’re never allowed to act out of the team", even you're successful individually, was one of the moments that put me into a trance. Is that really the case?

    Similar gripping moments:

    "Danger always strikes when everything seems fine."

    "A good fort needs a gap. The enemy must be lured in."

    "This is the nature of war! By protecting others, you save yourselves."

    I could keep going. This stuff is soooooo Yoda.

  3. You couldn't get much less educated than me but I love this film. I stll am a fan of the Magnificent Seven and when I heard this was the inspiration I had to see it.

    I usually poo-poo american remakes of classic "foreign language" films but sometimes they get it spot on.

  4. Talking about foreign movie remakes: I'm very much looking forward to watching "Let Me In", the remake of the great Swedish "Let the Right One In". Considering your expertise in horror, I'm assuming you've seen it; correct? How was it? Stephen King called it his top favorite movie of 2010 (although I don't always agree with his movie choices).