Seven Samurai

Seven Samurai ★★★★★

Colossal in its thematic execution and ambition, Japanese master Akira Kurosawa rightfully deserves all the laurels for his dazzling, monumental approach of this epic samurai-war drama Seven Samurai. It’s one of the rare instances in a very long film such a this, where there’s no wasted moment. Every frame, and every shot contribute to the overall push of the narrative. Today as of 2021, this film is exactly 67 years old and still ushers force and intensity that can topple any contemporary Hollywood blockbuster.

Seven Samurai follows the trials of farmer’s village ravaged by bandits. As chaos ensues, the peasants search for seven samurais that can help them beat the bad guys—and thus history unfolds itself. Kurosawa’s framing device and cinematic techniques are apparently unheard and new during that time, but as I see it now, it retains a certain kind of freshness, vitality to the scope and writing of the film.

The heroism portrayed in Seven Samurai is no easy feat. It takes a village to succeed. It takes a master, to get you to the place of contentment and success. Kurosawa and his co-writers Shinobu Hashimoto and Hideo Oguni filled their wide canvasses with deep appreciation not just for their characters, but their relationship to the community and to nature. There might be archetypes in them, but their motivations are true to a human level—recognizable, ugly, and beautiful.

The performances are sublime. It’s an ensemble picture filled with great character actors in them, but Toshiro Mifune and Takashi Shimura provide the film’s inherent fire. Mifune plays his samurai as beastly as possible—loud, obnoxious, sly and feral. If Mifune lays the film’s needed humor, charm and levity—it’s Takashi Shimura who gives the essence of grace and strength. Shimura plays the samurai master who gathers all the samurais together. His calm guidance and command permeate all throughout the film.

Time flies when you’re watching Seven Samurai. It’s as if cinema is on rebirth. There’s an unrivaled passion and to Kurosawa’s intense helming of the film and I can see that. Seven Samurai rightfully deserves its place in the pantheon of cinematic greats.

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