Saturday, January 28, 2006

Seven Samurai

Title: Shichinin no samurai -aka- Seven Samurai (1954)
Dir: Akira Kurosawa
Tagline: The Mighty Warriors Who Became the Seven National Heroes of a Small Town.
Rating: ***** out of 5 stars


I just noticed this was #5 on IMDB's top films of all time. I won't dispute that, but I will dispute the fact that LOTR: Return of the King is ranked #4. No offense to Peter Jackson but bullllllshit.

Anyway, Seven Samurai is fantastic. It is easily the most entertaining three-and-a-half-hour film I have ever seen. Movies like RotK and Braveheart couldn't exist without this film.

Here's the story: A village of farmers, being victimized by bandits, seek the protection of samurai in exchange for rice meals. They go into town looking for help, and find it from an old ronin who helps recruit a small army of volunteer samurai. He gathers 5 experienced samurai, and picks up a strange follower who claims to be samurai. Together they make 7, and help the small farming village prepare for a bandit attack.

The final hour or so of the film involves a large gang of bandits attacking and being fought off by the samurai and the farmers. The battle scenes, albeit fairly small by today's standards, are great. The influence of this film upon contemporary epic war movies is evident.

Each character in the film is so interesting, especially the lone follower Kikuchiyo. I still find myself amazed that movies this old had characters this damn cool. There are so many great scenes, and great dialogue. I don't recall feeling bored once throughout the entire 3+ hour span.

I'm so tickled when movies are this well-made and yet equally entertaining. I hate pretentious films that throw the audience's interests out the window for the sake of making something "artsy". To those filmmakers, I say take a lesson from Kurosawa - you can make a brilliant movie and still engage your audience.