Seven samurai (Shichinin no Samurai)

seven-samurai-posterJapanese adventure from 1954
Starring: Toshirô Mifune, Takashi Shimura, Keiko Tsushima
Director: Akira Kurosawa
Writers: Akira Kurosawa, Shinobu Hashimoto, Hideo Oguni
Bechdel-test: Fail

Exposition

In a somewhat lawless time in Japan during the 16th century, a village is threatened by bandits. In order to survive they must stand up to the villains, and they employ seven samurai to fight for their own and the village’s survival.

Reactions

I have not seen this or any other of Kurosawa’s movies before, and I find it a little difficult to put into words what I think about it.

First; it is very long, three and a half hours. And yet, the plot is quite simple – some warriors defend a poor village. Even so, it held my attention the whole way through, mostly by the way the characters are shown. We get to know them in depth and it seems to be honest portrayals of real people. Afterwards it seems like I have really gotten to know these men, and I could even give characteristics of them. “Oh, yeah but that is what Shimada is like. He always cracks a smile at a good joke.”

seven-samurai-old-man

Kokuten Kôdô as Old Man Gisaku is just one of the faces to fall in love with in “Seven samurai”.

One of the most pleasing visuals in the movie is the faces of some of the older people in the village. Those are faces with a lot of character and life.

Contemplations

Both sound and picture is of a quality that you would expect from such a long time ago; a little iffy or crackling here and there, but still very well shot and some of the scenery would probably have been amazing in color. I did find it a little difficult to tell daylight from darkest night in black and white.

The acting was quite a bit over the top in many scenes. There was a lot of jumping and screaming and sometimes people flocked together like gaggles in a kind of hysteria. Other times a scene could be more quiet and understated, more controlled in a way. This change was a part of keeping my interest and attention for so long.

The story was, as mentioned, quite simple, but it was full of both imagery, and characters with depth and a journey through the story. A full analysis of the story is hardly the point of this little log, but there was more than enough to keep me engaged and attentive throughout.

It was also a fascinating look at strange hierarchy between people and some very unusual gender roles.

Judgement

I don’t think I will watch this movie again, but I’m glad that I’ve seen it once. I see many online reviews of this movie has titles like “The best movie ever” or “It changed my life”, and while it was good, that is taking it a bit far.

Epilogue

I think “Seven Samurai” is a movie for the specially interested. Maybe if you want to see the movie that “The magnificent seven” was based on, or if you are specially interested in Japanese history, this might be a good fit for you. However, generally speaking, I would not recommend this movie to most people. Regardless, I think this movie is best viewed by an adult audience. I also suggest that if you choose to see this movie, you brake it up into two sessions of viewing at about the halfway mark.

Over to you

If you’ve recently seen “Seven samurai” (Shichinin no Samurai) or you’re watching along with my year of movies, please leave a comment below with your thoughts on the movie or note down your opinion somewhere else.

Nine movies down. 356 to go.


If you want to get “Seven samurai” (Shichinin no Samurai) from Amazon, here is a link for that. They probably have the movie many other places too. Maybe it’s already on your shelf?

Tomorrow’s movie is “The Avengers“. Get some more information about this movie and the other movies on my watch list this week on the upcoming movies page. If you’re new to this site and are wondering why I’m watching a movie every day for a year, read more about my experiment.

Until next time; live long and prosper.

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