A reviewer once wrote that the most amazing thing about Seven Samurai is that one-and-a-half hours into the movie, we're still in the character development part, and nobody's even noticed the movie has been running that long already. sure, it's not for everybody, especially for those who grew up with mostly Hollywood commercial fare that last 70-90 minutes. but for even the borderline film enthusiast, the Seven Samurai is a treat. Here, some of Japanese cinema's greats (Kurosawa, Mifune, Takashi Shimura) come together at the perfect time, to do the perfect job. Here, possibly, is the greatest movie of all time, and you are watching it.
the best special feature, the commentary track, is very detailed, in fact at some point, it is annoyingly too detailed! but if you want to know why toshiro mifune's acting was over the top, or where he was born (Manchuria), or why millet seems so low compared to rice, or why the light seems to change during the scene where we first see Kanbei Ishima (the bald, dignified leader of the samurai, here portrayed by Takashi Shimura), then the commentary track is indispensable. I've seen this DVD twice, with commentary on, and with commentary off. It's quite easy for me since I don't understand Japanese anyway, so the dialogue comes to me strictly through subtitles. needless to say, I highly recommend watching it in the manner I described.
there have been many "tributes" to this movie, from the obvious (The Magnificent Seven, The 13th Warrior), to the not so obvious (Disney/Pixar's "Bug's Life"). In all of them, the idea that a band of warriors would come to the rescue of an obscure village for nothing more than a bowl of rice (what, not even meat to go with that?), or in the case of "Bug's Life" nothing more than the chance to finally give a good show, seems ridiculous and unbelievable. As many reviewers have posted, the wretched farmers don't even deserve sympathy. Until you realize (the commentary helps a lot on this) that these samurai agreed to take the job because it gives them a chance to do what they do. They went there because once again, they can prove themselves worthy.