Tottenham_Toad’s review published on Letterboxd:
What is there to say except "wow"! Akira Kurosawa's Seven Samurai follows the story of a small village being attacked by bandits, who them employ seven samurai to help protect the village. Kurosawa's Seven samurai has gone on to not only be classed as a top three film of all time (by numerous sources), but also inspired Hollywood classics, such as The Magnificent Seven. it is not often that the word "perfection" can be thrown about, given that it is an impossibility; but in the case of this film, it is the only word that comes to mind. The three hour epic leaves nothing up to the imagination, and distributes one of the most gorgeous and thrilling films, both mentally and physically. In being renowned, Kurosawa's excruciatingly fantastic use of mise-en-scene rivals competitors today; not only through the cinematography, but the topic as a whole. Aesthetic is achieved from start to finish; with the intuitive editing style that he possesses still being seen in films today. Cutting quickly between character's close-ups have become synonymous with Westerns in particular. Not only this, but in contrasting lighting between the foreground and back. One could argue that the lighting follows more of German Expressionism, as opposed to Kurosawa's unique directing. Beside it all, goes Fumio Hayasaka's unparalleled score; in which it goes hand in hand with the film.
The plot to seven Samurai has been one of the most widely successful storylines of all time, which in it's own right has become a commercial success globally; with films from almost every country having something similar. The main difference between them all, is in how context appears with it. Seven samurai is most well remembered for it's gruelling story of strength and resilience, which is linked heavily with the samurai way of life, as well as Japanese history in entirety. Therefore, The Magnificent seven for one, could not live up to it's forerunner; as it was not rich enough through content. Seven Samurai is split up into what seems to be three parts, by use of Todorov's theory on equilibrium. This style of cinema (at the time) was completely unheard of; alongside the duration of the film anyway. The first "part" acts as the introduction phase, as it clearly defines the themes and characters ideologies quickly. Beyond this, starts the training sequence which could be the influencer for a large proportion of Sports films (in particular Rocky). Although this is not as gripping as the other parts of the story, it makes for some very key tension later on, in the third stage. The final chapter creates the inevitable battle sequence, that has been apart of Cinema to this day. Normally, the battle is non-stop and intense; but it could be argued that Kurosawa creates an incredible juxtaposition between the intense bursts of gore and violence, with the tranquil nature of the down time. It could be argued that this style of film has been lost, as the format does not sem to be used.
If there is a singular thing that can be remembered from Seven Samurai, it is the cast; which in some people's opinion has held the top spot for greatest ensemble, since the film was created. It is incredibly hard to state just a few performances; given they are all worthy of Academy Awards (including the small parts), but the one standout role for myself and a large amount of other spectators, is Toshiro Mifune. Mifune holds everything that a character should have, through the use of balancing the mixture between grief/depression an the psychotic tendencies; to the small uses of humour and empowerment. Kurosawa has used Mifune for the majority of his career, and has certainly created one of the most robust duo's in all of film history. The seven samurai themselves are incredible. They all hold very distinct views on life; yet they agree on moral grounds, with their belief in the villagers. My personal favourite character being Seiji Miyaguchi's Kyuzo. The enthralling dynamic that all the cast bring to this film, is something that all film goers have to appreciate.
To conclude, Seven samurai has been sat upon my shelf for the longest time. And as I have previously stated in my Sunset Boulevard review, the idea of something being this fantastic scares me; as I worry it will not love up to expectation. After watching the film today, i can safely say that it was a mistake for me to prolong my viewing of this sheer greatness. To make it in to my favourites, I would have to watch the film a few more times. yet after one watch of this film, I can easily state that it is single-handedly the greatest film I have ever experienced. I insist that you do not make the same stupid error that I did, and watch the film as soon as you can!