Written on: 19/04/2013 by AMcLeod (15 reviews written)
Seven Samurai is a 1954 Japanese period film that focuses on a village that is being raided by bandits. The villagers decide that they've had enough and and some of them go out to recruit Samurai to protect them, with the only payment they have being rice. While searching, they end up recruiting seven samurai in total. Kambei Shimada (played by Takashi Shimura) who is the leader of the group. Katsushirō Okamoto (played by Isao Kimura), the young and inexperienced samurai who wants to prove his worth. Gorōbei Katayama (Yoshio Inaba), the second in command of the group and a highly skilled archer. Shichirōji (Daisuke Katō), the former lieutenant to Kambei and a good friend of his. Heihachi Hayashida (Minoru Chiaki), the one who has a warm heart and gives encouragement to all the villagers. Kyūzō (Seiji Miyaguchi), the usually silent and highly skilled fighter who keeps a stone face most of the film. And finally, Kikuchiyo (Toshiro Mifune), the loudmouth and hotheaded member of the samurai, who isn't really a samurai to begin with but eventually proves his worth.
Now, the film is in black and white and it's all spoken in Japanese with English subtitles. While I can understand it being in black and white, I would like to actually see this film in color, maybe in a restored re released version. In the black and white, it does have this rather grittier feel to the action which happens much later on in the film. The Japanese dub I enjoy listening to a lot because it makes what the characters say seem a lot more serious and it makes the characters stand out more. I'm sure there's an English dubbed version out there somewhere for people who don't want to listen to Japanese the whole film.
Onto the acting. The acting I don't have much of a comment on. For a Japanese film, especially from 1954, it's really really good. The characters feel real and legitimate, at least for the samurai. The acting for the village characters, I felt was okay, but not as good as the acting for the samurai characters.
There's not much to say for music except for when the villagers are singing at the end and the samurai are leaving. Now this song I will admit is actually really catchy and it will get stuck in your head and be stuck for a long time.
Onto the action. First of all, I have to comment on the amount of people who were involved with making this film. There was no CGI back in the 50's, so when you see over fifty people in one shot, you're seeing fifty people in one shot. The action in this film is good for the 1950's, especially for a Japanese film. It does look rather dated compared to nowadays sword fights in movies. It doesn't look like the swords are actually going into the people or like they're actually drawing blood. However, that's not a bad thing. If you get past the fact that it doesn't look like they're really hitting them sometimes, the way the action is put together does make it seem a lot grittier and more realistic.
There is only one thing I didn't like. One of the villagers, Rikichi, has a grudge against the bandits because they took his wife from him. Well when he and two other samurai are spying on the bandits, they find out that Rikichi's wife is still alive. But then she dies right after that. To me it just felt rather pointless to the story and didn't seem necessary.
All in all though, Seven Samurai is a masterpiece of film making and I am glad that I got to watch it.