Review of 'Seven Samurai'

seven_samauri.jpg Truly a classic of cinema, Kurosawa's “Seven Samauri” has been the inspiration for many films and filmmakers but how does it stand up on it's own? Even now it is an enthralling and compelling piece of cinematography. Sure, it is in Japanese so many people will watch either dubbed into another language or with subtitles, yes, it is also in black and white which may put some people off…but it is still amazing.

Seven Samurai takes place in ancient Japan. Every year shortly after the rice harvest bandits attack and pillage a small farming village. Desperate to save their village from starvation and despite having little money they go in search of Samurai to see off the threat. Eventually a Samurai agrees to help determining that they will need seven Samurai will be needed. After a long search seven Samurai (well five true Samurai and two not-so-Samurai) are found and they return to a terrified village. Slowly but surely they train the villagers and prepare the village for the coming attack.

At almost three and a half hours we are drawn into the characters and the story. The final scenes leading up to the confrontation in the village do seem to drag but, of course, this is how it would be like and helps ratchet up the tension.

The look of the film is completely believable (I was lucky to watch a restored print of the film from the BFI) with only the OTT and blatantly humorous actions of the villagers being somewhat jarring but it does add a bit of levity to an otherwise extremely heavy story. The camera angles and pacing keep you engaged throughout with the characters and the situation. The Samurais are perfectly realised as honourable and admirable heroes. The scenes of them frantically running around in the final battle are slightly odd but this but a minor point.

Enthralling story, great characters and still looks amazing. It is easy to see why this was an inspiration for the likes of Star Wars…

Rating: “Nearly perfect, but not quite”

Review Date: 2018-05-12

Directed by: Akira Kurosawa

Studio: Toho Company

Year: 1954

Length: 198 minutes

Genre: Action/Adventure

Other reviewed films by Akira Kurosawa: