on July 19, 2004
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.
on November 23, 2011
This is an exceptionally strong high-definition transfer. A lot of work has gone into the restoration of Seven Samurai, and it definitely shows - a lot of the daylight scenes, for instance, look quite remarkable; clarity and contrast levels are without a doubt the best I have ever seen. Furthermore, many of the close-ups which traditionally have been very problematic now look fresh and healthy.
on December 27, 2007
"Seven samurai" (1954) is arguably Akira Kurosawa's best film, and my favourite of those made by that wonderful Japanese director. The plot of this movie is simple enough, but it is developed in a way that enriches it, by adding depth to the characters and making the spectator realize that there is more to them than meets the eye. The rigid cast division that characterized 16th century Japan is shown, and the whole period is brought to life thanks to outstanding cinematography and excellent acting.
The story begins when the inhabitants of a very small rural village start discussing what to do about the bandits that attack them from time to time, taking everything of value with them. The farmers have very few resources and hardly any food left, but need to find a solution to their urgent problem or face certain death. An old and wise man proposes an unorthodox idea: to hire wandering samurai in very dire straits to defend the village, paying them only with food.
The others farmers deem that suggestion outlandish but, having no other options, decide to give it a try. That is the point when we accompany them in their quest for salvation to a nearby town, where they look for samurai willing to work for almost nothing. Will they get hold of some? And what kind of people will the farmers be able to tempt with such poor offer?
The answers to those questions, brought to life thanks to Kurosawa's mastery of the silver screen, end up giving us the opportunity to watch one of those very few movies that truly deserve to be called "classics". Highly recommended...
on October 16, 2002
Steven Spielberg put it best: Kurosawa is every bit the equal of Shakespeare. No one opened our eyes to Eastern mythology, royalty, history and culture quite like Kurosawa. His films are like huge tapestries, both appealing to the eye but also educating the heart and mind to the rich, complex history of Japan.
Seven Samurai is my favorite of Kurosawa's films (next to Dreams) because it is one of the most perfectly balanced films I have ever seen. The cast is superb, the camerawork is legendary, and the script is so full of wisdom and poignancy that by the end of the film you want to become a samurai.
Whether or not it is the greatest film of all time is irrelevant because art is not measured quantitatively. It's about as silly as trying to figure out the greatest painting of all time. This movie is to be appreciated along the same lines as Beethoven's 9th. Simply absorb in the genius of the work and be transformed in your perceptions of what is possible.
on November 3, 2001
"Seven Samurai" is one of those movies your hear referred to constantly by full-time film afficionados. Those are the kinds of movies I'm usually leery of. Finally I broke down and rented "Seven Samurai," and found it to be well worth the praise-indeed, worthy of its position as one of the all-time great movies. The story is a rousing one, the cinematography instantly affecting. I liked the dvd so much I purchased a copy. I appreciate Criterion's decision to have commentary from a full-fledged Japanese film fan. He knows the material inside out and provides a wealth of small details, as well as appreciative remarks that no director would feel comfortable making. Highly recommended.
on February 23, 2014
“Akira Kurosawa’s” the Seven Samurai”is consider one of his best films,and I concur with that,
At Three hours and twenty seven minutes and four second,I was not bored at all,it felt like it was
only one hour,every one character in this movie was important to every scene,even the old woman
with the pick who wanted to avenged the murder of her son,was moving,after all these people have had
enough of these bandits killing spree,the close up shot of some of the character in the movie is so good,
and Kurosawa capture it so brilliantly with expression on every face,that this almost seem like it was So real
to them,that I though I was not watching a movie,it’s like I was siting on a cloud just watching these people
lives being decimated by the bandits,every scene was so done right,the editing,when the one farmer in the
opening scene,he left the group and walked out,the sudden stop that he made then you get the long shot of him
bending to the ground with his head in the ground,was Absolutely magnificent,there was so many to count,
the one scene with the Samurai who was challenged by another man before he was chosen by the farmers to
help them,almost looked like it was in Slow-motion,and the most Beautiful thing about this movie is,the Subtitle
was the best for that time period of 1954,I was wayyy impress with that,had no problem reading it and seeing
what was going on at the same time, Big Kudos for that,I wish it was in 2.35:1 widescreen, I would’ve loved that,
I liked to state there is So much stuff with extras on this two disc set Wow, this Blu-Ray picture is perfect Quality,
“Well” lets hope no one down-load it for Free, “TekSavvy” there’re coming After you, I love it,
Love Love Love This Movie...
on March 17, 2004
This is an incredible movie. I loved it. Not only does the Seven Samurai have loads of action, but there are other aspects of this movie that make it such an enjoyable experience to watch. The thing I like best about this movie was the humor. Some of the lines said by the samurais were so hilarious I couldn't stop laughing! Even though things got silly at times, there was ,however, a very serious side to the movie and it made you realize how tough life can really be. I have watched several of Akira Kurosawa's films such as Ran, etc, and by far, this is his best work. The only complaints I have about this movie was that it was in black and white and so I had a hard time reading the white lettering of the subtitles. This movie is a true gem. I was thinking of buying it, but my oh my, it is quite costly! Nevertheless, it is worthy to put in anyone's collection. It is rare that you'll ever find a movie as good as this, it is in a league of it's own. Truly a masterpiece that should be cherished!
on March 3, 2004
Clocking in at just under four hours with not a scrap of filler, Kurosawa's THE SEVEN SAMURAI is every bit as legendary at its enthusiasts would have you believe.
The basic story is extremely simple. In a period of social chaos, a small farming village learns it will once more be attacked by a band of thirty bandits after the harvest. At first the farmers despair, but village elder Gisaku (Kokuten Kodo) recalls that in his childhood a similar village met a similar situation by hiring Samurai to defend them. The villagers accordingly send representatives to the city, where they are able to convince Samurai Kambei Shimada (Takashi Shimura) to undertake the defense.
If the plot sounds familiar, it should: Hollywood would translate it into the extremely popular 1960 western THE MAGNIFICENT SEVEN--but fine though that film is, it pales beside THE SEVEN SAMURAI, which effectively turns an action film premise into a character study of the first order and endows the story with both tremendous simplicity and artistry. Much of this is due an extraordinary ensemble cast, which includes the celebrated Toshiro Mifune (who would later appear in Kurosawa's THRONE OF BLOOD and YOJIMBO); above this, however, is Kurosawa's remarkable vision that draws upon the visual motif of the circle.
The circle is a powerful presence in SAMURAI. The village is presented as a roughly circular pattern of houses; the farmers meet in circles; in due time the Samurai enter the circle and stand at the center of the circle, directing the defense--and indeed the circle will become the defense, as Shimada works to find means to draw the bandits into the circle and to their doom. The motif will be elaborated: tied to the cycle of seed time, growth time, and harvest; tied to the cycle of life; and ultimately showing the quiet bitterness of life for those who operate outside the circular codes of community: the "Ronin," the Samurai who have no master and no community, and whose lives are not valued by the community except for aid at a moment of crisis.
Shot in simple black and white, as much (if not more) a detailed character and culture study as it is an action film, THE SEVEN SAMURAI is extremely simple and yet extremely subtle, and ultimately one of the most powerful films it has been my pleasure to review. The quality of the Criterion DVD transfer is very good, but by no means flawless--although it survives well, the film has not been digitally restored, and artifacts are frequent. There is little in the way of bonus material, but the commentary by Michael Jeck is quite fine. Strongly recommended.
GFT, Amazon Reviewer
on February 21, 2004
This is one of the most (if not the most) famous Japanese film of all time. It is also Kurosawa's most popular film. This film has often been imitated but never surpassed. It's plot is of villagers who are repeatedly robbed by wandering bandits. In an act of despiration the village elder recalls that when he was a child that people hired samurai to protect their villages. So the village does the same for when the bandits return.
The fight scenes are excellently choreographed and the cimematography has been imitated by others an uncountable number of times. An interesding note that that is the first US edition where the Japanese language curse-words are translated in the subtitles. Something too risque for audiences at the time of release. I don't know why so many people are turned off by foreign language films. Internationally US films are popular because English is taught in all the schools. Being American myself, I think it should only be fair that we return the favor to our international film audience and watch their films also. We have missed quite a lot.
on January 31, 2004
Admittedly, when our high school cinema teacher annouced we'd be watching a black and white movie with subtitles almost 4 hours long, there was a collective grumble that eminated from the students. And yet, once the movie started, not one person squirmed, fell asleep, or passed notes. This movie is so fab, it spawned the remake "The Magnificent Seven", and even "A Bug's Life".
A poor village in Japan is routinely being attacked and robbed by bandits. These little "visits" always coincide with harvest time, and the villagers have little or no food left over for themselves. One day after an attack they seek the wisdom of an elder who tells them they cannot afford weapons, but they can find men with weapons, samurai, who will fight for them. A veteran samurai, who has fallen on hard times, answers the village's request for protection from the bandits. He gathers 6 other samurai to help him, and they teach the townspeople how to defend themselves, and in return they supply the samurai with three small meals a day. The film culminates in a giant battle when 40 bandits attack the village.
There are so many stories within the bigger story that make this film the cinematic classic that it is. Even "The Magnificent Seven" couldn't truly capture the emotion the "Seven Samuri" brought (perhaps, as Billy Crystal once pointed out, it's just too ridiculous to hear Yul Brenner saying "Howdy, Partner!")The original is the best and should not be missed. Even without a load of DVD extras (you only get the original US movie trailer and a commentary by a Japanese film expert), it's worth every penny.