“Seven Samurai” – Chris Luedtke

If you’re into foreign cinema and haven’t seen Seven Samurai then, we have some issues — many of which would involve me shooting you looks of sheer confusion and spouting off noises that have yet to be heard on this planet. That’s like being into science fiction and saying you’ve never seen the original Star Wars trilogy; it’s just plain wrong and dirty. Yet alas, there are such people who exist in this dimension. For those of you who are fans and haven’t yet seen Seven Samurai, I’m here to make sure your ass gets out and rents it a.s.a.p.

A small village town is under the tyranny of a powerful band of thieves who make them slave away for virtually nothing in return. One of the farming groups finally cracks and decides to hire samurai in order to protect the village. However, there is one small catch: the farmers cannot offer any money to the samurai, only food. The search becomes a quest of hopelessness until the village finds Kambei Shimada (Takashi Shimura), a veteran samurai whom affectionately takes charge of the campaign against the band of thieves and finds the other six samurai.

Okay, realize this right now: this film clocks in at three hours and twenty-three minutes. Yeah, it’s a long film, but you know what? I can’t imagine it being any shorter. If one where to cut an hour off of this film, its complexity would be lost. Seven Samurai is so calculated that every minute counts. One cannot say that about many films out there. In fact, I would say that this has to be Akira Kurosawa’s proudest project with its fragile plot. You’ll find it hard to not be swept up in what’s going on and why. War maps are drawn, careful searching for samurai is needed, turmoil is created — Seven Samurai at least nudges most genres of film but still manages to stay one thing at all times: epic.

The characters are extremely colorful. Kikuchiyo (Toshirô Mifune) steals the show. His quirky loud, drunk, annoying yet lovable character will dive right into your heart. The dedication that each character shows toward the mission is nothing short of honorable. But that’s the point, isn’t it? Well, that doesn’t mean there isn’t dishonor within the ranks. Samurai and villagers have many clashing issues, while we sit back and sometimes want one of the characters to be taken out for their mutiny. Characters don’t act upon such things without reason, however, whether out of fear, desire, or desperation. Again, calculation is everything here, especially concerning the characters.

I don’t know if much else can really be said about this film. It’s just flat-out epic on a grand scale. Back in 1954, the battles in here were considered extremely violent, but nowadays compared to other media, I’d say they’re mild. However, they are still unrivaled in their sheer power. There is no stop-motion animation here or CGI. Everything is done without fancy or glamorous camera work, and the end result is just damn awesome. Again if you haven’t seen Seven Samurai, I don’t know what you’re waiting for. This is a must-see.

Rating: ★★★★

-Chris Luedtke

Read Jason DeMoe’s Seven Samurai review here.

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