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Seven Samurai | Film Reviews for a classic by Akira Kurosawa

Recently I got a chance to watch the famous classic of Akira Kurosawa – Seven Samurai. I am not familiar much with Japanese culture but this kind of classic gives us the chance to visit various cultures as well. The lesson learn is all the cultures are almost equal in terms of structure, values and other attributes.

Movie : Seven Samurai
Director : Akira Kurosawa
Producer : Sojiro Motoki
Written By : Akira Kurosawa, Shinobu Hashimoto, Hideo Oguni
Cast : Takashi Shimura (Shimada Kanbei), Isao Kimura(Okamoto Katsushirō), Yoshio Inaba(Katayama Gorōbei), Daisuke Katō(Shichirōji), Minoru Chiaki(Hayashida Heihachi), Seiji Miyaguchi(Kyūzō), Toshirō Mifune(Kikuchiyo), Shinpei Takagi, Shin Ōtomo, Toshio Takahara, Masanobu Ōkubo, Yukiko Shimazaki, Yoshio Kosugi, Yoshio Tsuchiya, Keiko Tsushima, Kamatari Fujiwara, Bokuzen Hidari, Kokuten Kodo and others…

There is a small village somewhere which was a victim of bandits. Last year they produced rice which were all taken by bandits and now they are again on their way to loot. Though the wise chief of bandits decide to spare the village till some remarkable amount of stuff is prepared by them to loot. By overhearing their conversation, a villager informs people there and they all meet together to discuss a possible solution. You seem to find similar situations in Hindi films and almost similar problems and similar conversations. As all human beings are similar, their problems are quite similar too. Young people tries finding a solution with little aggressiveness and olders think to play safe for the sake of kids and women. Anyway, they need to find a solution. There is an old wise man in the village and after seeking guidance from hm, it was finally decided to hire Samurais, to fight bandits. It was not easy though.

Even the decision have divided the village people in two groups. Some of them were thinking that surrendering to the bandits and after giving everything to them, requesting them to spare their lives and let them have little amount of stuff so they can fight hunger and live; is the best option. Others were thinking that the suggestion of the elder is the best to go for. Even there were beliefs that Samurais are very costly to hire and they of course cannot afford them. People were also thinking that the Samurais usually lust for women and that would be a point to think about seriously. But ultimately, how many choices they have anyway?! A few people went to the city to find Samurais but they were not responded properly.

Then they witnessed an incident. A boy was captured by a thief in a small village. The thief was only one but he have declared that if anyone tries being smart he will kill the boy. A samurai then overpowers him and saves the boy. A ray of light is seen by the villagers there. A young fellow requested the Samurai to make him his disciple. The samurai then tells his name and reveals that he is a ronin (a samurai without a master) and he have no disciple, he offered him to befriend with him. Kambei – the samurai also revealed that the young fellow is over estimating him, he rather have no special skills. Kambei also tells that he have experience in war but he lost all them.

“Defense is harder then offense”. This is what we hear from Kambei when the villagers approached him to help them. He have also calculated that based on the physical layout of the village, they need seven samurais to protect it. He haven’t said yes, to help village people by telling that it is very hard to find seven reliable samurais and despite, he is aged as well. Ultimately though, Kambei was ready to help the farmers. However it was not easy to find other Samurais for him. Because he is preparing for a tough war, where the participant could meet to the death. Also the war that will neither bring them any money or fame! The only reward they get is the rice to eat, which the village people can happily give them by living themselves on millet! Who want to join such army?! But of course there are people who live their lives differently and/or come to a certain stage of the life where those reward doesn’t make any difference to them. Ultimately the warrior team was ready!

We are just leaving the details of how their army of seven samurai prepared, how they trained and the incidents then after which is the essence of movie, which we feel that you better watch on yourself. It is a magnum opus by Kurosawa.

It is worth to note that the film served as the source of inspiration for several noted film makers around the world. The latest version of the same in the Indian Cinema was China Gate by Rajkumar Santoshi. If to compare the central theme “to hire people to protect the village from bandits/goons”, you can find it was done is many movies including the noted block buster “Sholey”. Other remarkable films based on this one is “The Magnificent Seven”. Well, the movies like Karma, Mela (Amir Khan and Faisal Khan starrer), Army (Shridevi starrer), Elaan, The Ocean’s Eleven, The Ocean’s Twelve and many more you can find to loosely adapt the concept. The film is considered as one of the most inspirational films ever made.

The film is having less drama and quite straight forward compared to the thrillers we watch now a days, nor it has additional SFX. I saw the Japanese (original) version of the film (with English Subtitles of course), and it is quite easy to get into the flow without being disturbed by the language barrier. It is a classic and we recommend the same to the movie lovers and enthusiasts.

Some of the awards the film was nominated (and won some of them):

Academy Awards (1957)
Best Art Direction-Set Decoration, Black-and-White – So Matsuyama
Best Costume Design, Black-and-White – Kôhei Ezaki
(Both Nominated)
British Academy Film Awards (1956)
BAFTA Award for Best Film
BAFTA Award for Best Foreign Actor – Toshirō Mifune
BAFTA Award for Best Foreign Actor – Takashi Shimura
(All Nominated)
Venice Film Festival (1954)
Silver Lion – Akira Kurosawa (Won)
Golden Lion – Akira Kurosawai (Nominated)

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