Seven Samurai

Seven Samurai ★★★★★

I probably only have myself to blame, but despite the fact that I’ve seen a few Akira Kurosawa-features, I went into 七人の侍 (Seven Samurai) expecting something heavy, brooding and dour when in fact, this carries a remarkable pace and energy in its tone. It’s never a pure populist spectacle but the villagers of the film are all portrayed with energetic charm and the titular samurais never goes too far into the brooding codex. In fact, the film is so packed with excitement, drama and philosophy that you’ll never miss the action, but the climax is also very pleasant given all the setup.

Packed with characters, 七人の侍 have plenty of energetic performances and personal characters, but above all, Kurosawa’s epic triumphs as a portrait of the strength in community and collective work. “War is not fought alone” as one man proclaims in the long finale and the film is filled with so many little moments of people just lending a hand to the person next to them. Seeing the little man band together with other small men to fight and stand up against the higher powers here, is stronger than any samurai power-fantasy imaginable.

It’s just an immensely, incredibly rich film. Providing both action and enjoyable moments, but despite its epic ambitions and heavy runtime it ends as something uplifting, a beautiful reminder of the power of the collective.

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