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Seven Samurai

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Seven Samurai

Film Review 7 Samurai
"Seven Samurai[1] (七人の侍 Shichinin no Samurai?) is a 1954 Japanese adventure drama film co-written, edited, and directed by Akira Kurosawa. The film takes place in 1587 during the Warring States Period of Japan. It follows the story of a village of farmers that hire seven masterless samurai (ronin) to combat bandits who will return after the harvest to steal their crops.

Seven Samurai is described as one of the greatest and most influential films ever made, and is one of a select few Japanese films to become widely known in the West for an extended period of time. It is the subject of both popular and critical acclaim; it was voted onto the top three of the Sight & Sound critics' list of greatest films of all time in 1982, and onto the directors' top ten films lists in the 1992 and 2002 polls."

This film can be used as a great resource for world history class. After Japan's invasion to Chosun peninsula in 1582, Hideyoshi began to lose power, resulting division among the different regional lords. Students can enhance their understanding of this lawlessness during warring State Period of Japan between farmers, warriors and bandits.

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Message from mapodaca

I've watched this film and found it interesting especially since this film deals with warriors that no longer have a place to belong. These warriors must find a way of surviving but also being worth their tradition. It was fascinating to watch them get their pride back as they guarded the peasents and fought for them. The whole premise is a universal one. People must find a way of getting back their pride, honor and purpose back in life. It is interesting to note that the same story was used to make a very american movie called the magnificence seven.

Jonathan Tam
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Seven Samurai

I wish I knew beforehand that this film was 3 and a half hours and in two-parts. So, consider that a helpful piece of information before you watch the film if you intend to see it because it's hard to put down after you start it.

Seven Samurai is directed by Akira Kurasawa and tells the story of seven samurai hired to protect a village from bandits. Though simple in plot, the film explores some of Kurasaw's common themes: human nature and morale. The seven samurai that are hired to protect the village are in some ways washed up, Ronin (leaderless / without masters), and hungry. And it's this desperation that leads them to taking the job. When you watch a film like Seven Samurai after a lot of other films throughout the last few decades, you immediately recognize the desperation in the characters because I would imagine that Kurasawa popularized the idea of reluctant heroism. As Kikuchiyo stood above the trenches of the villege outskirts, I could almost see Han Solo taunting storm troopers. And as the samurai begin to assemble and debate whether they were to take the job, you could almost see the beginning to The Italian Job or Ocean's 11. There are definitely some more direct connections to films such as The Magnificent Seven that came out 5 years after Seven Samurai because both plots start with seven protagonists (spoidler: and go down to just a few by the end).

Something that became clear after watching Rashomon is the fact that Kurasawa likes to work with the same actors - and also use them in similar capacities. Toshiro Mifune takes the role of the hyperactive and risk taking samurai - similar to his bandit role in Rashomon. And Takashi Shimura takes the role of the incredibly honorable and leading samurai - similar to his role in Rashomon. This was something that Kerim Yasar mentioned that Ozu had a habit for as well. The fact that Kurasawa uses the characters in this capacity allows fot he story to be less about development, and more about larger issues.

As a classroom tool, Seven Samurai brings to light the benefits and detriments to samurai. On one end, they are the skilled defenders of Japan. But on the other, they are the cause of forced labor and war. Kurasawa makes a point of this towards the end of the first part of the film as even the Samurai feel shameful for their actions and it's this guilt that motivates them beyond their initial motivation. Where the samurai are often considered badasses, excerpts of Seven Samurai offer a look at how much honor, strategy, and discipline play in each of their lives.

Like Rashomon, from a philosophical angle, Seven Samurai offers a lot of room to discuss human nature namely through the lens of war. It leaves us with the question of: Are there any winners in war as the remaining samurai bury their fallen brothers as well as what good comes from war. The farmers may have kept their village at the conclusion of the film - but the samurai are left at the end with an uncertain future, perhaps just looking for the next fight until their lives are taken.