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>
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 »
Memorable characters and one of the best action movies of all times
Having seen Kurosawa's Seven Samurai at least 10 times, I still see something new every time I watch it. I don't see how anyone, especially a non-Japanese, could possibly absorb this movie in less than 2 or 3 viewings. I've always been surprised at how each of the 7 samurai can make such an individual impression on you even if you can't understand Japanese. Although Toshiro Mifune is often considered the star, for me its Takashi Shimura who is firmly fixed at the center of the movie. He is the guiding moral force from the moment of his appearance in the film and can capture the viewer's attention in a way similar to Alec Guinness. Mifune's character can be annoying at first in his loutish behavior, but he gains stature throughout the film and eventually becomes a unifying force second only to Shimura. Minoru Chiaki as the woodcutting samurai provides a subtle humor and the others look to him to boost their morale. Daisuke Kato is another very familiar face to Japanese movie fans and provides an excellent foil to Shimura as his second in command. Yoshio Inaba is very good as the samurai who is recruited by Shimura and quickly builds a strong rapport with him. Seiji Miyaguchi as the "expert" warrior, dedicated to honing his skill as a swordsman is a very low key yet likeable character. Ko Kimura as the young hero-worshipping samurai, as well as the love interest of the peasant girl, wishes to be a great samurai, but is easily distracted by a field of flowers or a pretty face. The peasants in the village being defended by the samurai each have their own defining characteristics as well.
In addition to the wealth of interesting characters, we have a terrific action plot--the defending of the village from 40 marauding bandits by the small troop of samurai--, and a more subtle secondary plot involving the distrust of the samurai by the villagers due to the historical interaction of these two classes in feudal Japan. All of these plot and character elements are woven together into an unforgettable epic, but, at least in my opinion, its not one that can be absorbed in a single sitting. While it's similar in this sense to another of my favorite epics, Leone's Once Upon a Time in the West, it is more complex given the number of characters.
I can only say that your patience with this film will probably be well rewarded if you take the time to give it multiple viewings. You will also have the pleasure of seeing many of the samurai and villagers pop up in other Kurosawa films and films of other Japanese directors. If you like Mifune and Shimura in this one, catch them in Stray Dog and Drunken Angel in very different settings and parts.
This one is 10 out of 10 without a doubt.
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