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Seven Samurai, The

Japan (1954), 208 minutes
Starring: Takashi Shimura, Toshiro Mifune, Yoshio Inaba, Seiji Miyaguchi
Reviewer: Jeremy Silman
Genre: Drama, Martial Arts
Rating: 5

The Seven Samurai is a dark, emotional, and extremely intense study of an oppressed village that has to choose between the horror of bandits that make off with their women and possessions, or samurai, who the villagers hate, but in this instance, need.

Desperate, the villagers seek out and find a group of samurai who agree to risk their lives for one bowl of rice a day – clearly, the samurai are as desperate as the villagers! However, it quickly becomes clear that trust is something that will be as hard fought to achieve as the upcoming battle will be to win.

This is not a modern action movie. Fights look real, and battle isn’t glorified. It’s about duty, dealing with one’s station in life (a caste system), seeing beyond long-held prejudices, and the interesting detail that the villagers are terrified of death, while the samurai are not.

The Seven Samurai made such an impression that it created a whole new genre: a group of men join together to protect the “greater good.” It was no secret that The Magnificent Seven was a remake, and since that time numerous films have copied the formula. However, these initial two films remain on top of the mountain of movies that tried to emulate them.

Funeral Scene

One can see The Seven Samurai many times, and come away with something new on each occasion. It’s a true classic in every sense of the word.