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Japan 1954
Directed by
Akira Kurosawa
207 minutes
Rated PG

Reviewed by
Bernard Hemingway
4 stars

Seven Samurai

Akira Kurosawa's classic art house film tells the story of poor villagers under attack by marauding bandits and the seven unemployed samurai or ronin, led by two of Kurosawa’s favourite actors, Toshiro Mifune and Takeshi Shimura, who help them defend themselves.

With its histrionic acting style, artificial staging and long-held shots The Seven Samurai often looks like a silent film (even to the use of wipes) but this is more to do with the fact that Kurosawa is orienting his film to classical Japanese theatrical traditions rather than Hollywood verisimilitude, despite the fact that he was a devotee of John Ford's Westerns. The result is a benchmark ‘Eastern’ Western which was in turn was remade as a ‘Western’ Western in 1960 as The Magnificent Seven.

Although most will find it overlong (it was cut to 141 mins for commercial release in the West), it is a major cinematic achievement, demonstrating Kurosawa’s masterful mise-en-scène and his skill in portraying intimate human drama within the fabric of large scale events.

 

 

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