Shichinin no Samurai

Akira Kurosawa is one of my favorite directors, though I’ve only watched a handful of his movies:

  • Seven Samurai
  • Stray Dog
  • Yojimbo
  • Sanjuro
  • Rashoman
  • Hidden Fortress

But every single one of those is fantastic. I prefer Sanjuro to Yojimbo. It’s interesting to see all the remakes that resulted from some of these movies. Take Seven Samurai for example.

Remakes of Seven Samurai:

  • A Bug’s Life
  • The Magnificent Seven
  • The Three Amigos (possibly a stretch)
  • Battle Beyond the Stars

And those are just the ones I can think of off the top of my head.

Seven Samurai is one of my favorite movies, and is so obviously a film classic that I’m amazed when I found out people haven’t watched it. It’s not a crime to not watch it, I just for some reason continually assume people ahve.

I highly recommend watching the Criterion Collection version with the commentary on. The stories behind the movie and the context of that movie are just fascinating.

For example, there’s a scene where a character gets shot with an arrow. Did you know how they filmed that?

THEY BROUGHT IN AN EXPERT ARCHER AND HAD HIM SHOOT THE ACTOR. Hopefully, he would hit the wood block the actor was wearing under his shirt and not, you know, kill the guy.

Movies where the movie makers are willing to kill people are often very fascinating for me.

The premise of the movie is that a poor village of peasants is being marauded by bandits. Out of desperation they hire seven mercenaries, the titular samurai, to defend their village.

What seems superficially simple is actually a complex movie with a lot of layers. The movie explores the tensions that rise between the samurai and the peasants for example, that exposes a gulf that only one of the samurai (who was secretly a peasant) can bridge.

It’s also like the least boring 3 hour movie I’ve ever seen.

There’s so many epic scenes too, and so many awesome characters, which is amazing since the cast is enormous. There’s Heihachi, the jolly ronin who is found chopping wood. Kikuchiyo, who is a manic samurai wannabe. Kambei who is the grizzled leader. Or Awesome Kyuzo. “Awesome” isn’t his name but it becomes rapidly apparent that he’s awesome. Seriously, everyone agrees.

If you watch Japanese movies you’ll also recognize many of the actors including the incredible Toshiro Mifune as Kikchiyo. His speech to the samurai is incredible and he’s an element that probably no remake will ever be able to reproduce in full. If Akira Kurosawa is Werner Herzog, Toshiro Mifune is his Klaus Kinski.

Man, I’ve convinced myself to get a copy of Seven Samurai and watch it again. You’ll see interesting details too, like if you’re a Star Wars fan you’ll see where George Lucas blatantly stole his scene wipes. Seriously. Check it out.

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