Seven Samurai, the 1954 Akira Kurosawa masterpiece, is considered by many to be one of the greatest films ever made, and with good cause. It is recognized as one of the greatest achievements in cinema and is considered to be the Japanese equivalent to Orson Welles’ Citizen Kane. This movie centers around seven ronin (master-less samurai) who band together to protect a village of poor farmers from ruthless bandits. This epic was directed and co-written by master director Akira Kurosawa, the first true visionary of Japanese filmmaking, including his 1950 film, Rashomon, which opened the world to Japan as a film-making nation. His other accomplishments include Ran, Throne of Blood and Yojimbo. It stars Takashi Shimura, who takes a leading role as an honorable samurai named Kambei, the hero of the story. It also has a scene-stealing role from Toshirô Mifune, who plays a samurai whose origins are unclear and must prove himself time and time again. Mifune perfectly nails his role as Kikuchiyo, who is a mix of the strongest character, a lone wolf, but who also is often the light-hearted, silly character, providing comic relief.
This movie was influential for many reasons, especially considering it was the first movie to show a group of people banding together to accomplish a single goal. It was also the first movie credited as stylizing violence, a technique used often now, and the first movie to show a young warrior falling in love before going to battle. It is also often credited as the first movie to use slow motion for dramatic flair and to have a continually reluctant hero. Furthermore, what makes this film an enduring, entertaining and wonderful piece of art comes through in its simplistic story, with an extreme amount of emotional resonance and distinct visual style employed by Kurosawa. The story is a rather simple concept that is often used, but what makes this film stand head and shoulders above other films is the character development and themes involved with those characters. This movie, using a myriad of well-developed characters, helps define the nature of honor and discusses deep concepts such as man’s need to strive for goals he will never achieve. Another reason this movie is memorable getting to see this amazing story through the eyes of Akira Kurosawa. He shows all that happens in a distinct manner, which often tells more than any character could say through words. This movie runs at an admittedly long three and a half hours but no one would describe this as “long-winded”, using great editing, humor and amazing action sequences to make the running time briskly move along.
All in all, Seven Samurai is an amazing character study, an epic of great proportions, and an action movie with a romance sub-plot, which still finds time to teach the viewer universal lessons that all humans need to learn. This movie was remade for America, like many Kurosawa pictures, into the famous and well made, yet inferior, western, staring Yul Brynner and Steve McQueen, The Magnificent Seven (1960). Seven Samurai is currently ranked as the 15th best movie of all time, as voted on by users, on IMDB.com and is tied for the 5th highest rated movie on Rottentomatoes.com, a movie review aggregate. This is undoubtedly one of the best made films I’ve ever seen and I recommend it to all. If it wasn’t obvious, I give this movie a ten out of ten and would consider this a must-see for anyone who enjoys watching movies. This is the best example of why everyone should watch movies.
Imdb.com Rating: 8.8/10 (#15 all-time)
Rottentomatoes.com Rating: 100% with a 9.2 average rating (the second highest rating ever given)
My Rating: 10/10-A near perfect, if not perfect, movie