Seven Samurai

Seven Samurai ★★★★★

I've always struggled to find the right time to finally watch Kurosawa's Seven Samurai; it's running time has been a barrier for me. Funnily enough after finally watching the film, I wish it was longer! This is such a wonderful film, and another classic film which feels timeless in its perfect execution. Not one bit of the film feels dated, and the filmmaking methods employed here as well as the film's narrative style and characters are so iconic. It's strikingly clear how much this film has influence its successors from across the art form.

Much has already been said about the film, but I'd like to point out the main elements which floored me in my first viewing.

-The blocking, as well as the deep focus within the film combine to make Seven Samurai an incredibly satisfying film to watch. There's a sense of effortless purpose behind every shot, which is compounded by the perfect choreography of every individual on screen, both in the foreground and beyond. There's seriously too many examples to showcase this, where everything is purposely placed within the frame to create an organic image; two examples which I loved were the duel in the village between Kyuzo and his challenger, and the sequence where the raiders set fire to the buildings at the perimeter of the village are both exceptional examples of the film's epic production.

-The sense of space and spatial geography which is achieved in the film is spectacular. So much attention is given to map out the village which is central to the story, which pays dividends when the primary action begins. It is so easy to remain centred in the events as a result of the efforts made to create a realised space, which then goes on to make the stakes of the film feel ultimately stronger.

-The characters within the film are nothing short of iconic. The Samurai are portrayed in the film with such a heightened sense of heroism, I couldn't help but be reminded of the ways in which the Jedi are portrayed in Star Wars. These are figures who are inspiring, larger than life, and ultimately flawed human beings, and each character is given time for exploration and examination. As a fan of ensemble films with varied cast members, the characters introduced here were right up my alley. There's not a single character I didn't find believable, and I even find it difficult to choose a favourite in my reflection.

-The score to the film is also suitably epic, and adds a beautiful layer of fidelity to every scene. The pounding drums which open the film establish an epic platform for the events which unfold, which then transforms into bombastic brass sections as the film progresses.

Anything more that I could really focus on to explain why I loved this movie so much would be echoing the statements made by countless others, so I might leave it there. This was my first Kurosawa film, and certainly not my last. Finally watching Seven Samurai feels less like ticking mandatory viewing off my list, and more like reaffirming my love for film and all it's majesty. Wow.

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