TVG On Films: Seven Samurai (1954)

Two words any film connoisseur should know is Akira Kurosawa.

As you will read, he single handedly revolutionized cinema. Often being described as the writer/director who invented the Action Genre and whose stories and sub-plots challenged ancient traditions and gave birth to some of the most commonly used story-telling techniques used today.

Seven Samurai is about (you guessed it!) Seven Samurai warriors, sent to help a village from ongoing attacks from local bandits.

Simple enough plot line? Well when you consider the time period, the rigidness of Japanese culture/traditions, and the addition of a variety of subplots that start to challenge these traditions, it gets more complex. Due to the clarity of the storyline and the character development you will find that the 207 minutes is not actually as hard to follow as it may sound.

Kurosawa has an incredible ability to be able to capture emotion and action at the same time. This film can be violent but that is not its intention. Kurosawa uses a variety of techniques to avoid being a pointless ‘everyone dies’ action flick. He uses Deep Focus to show dialogue and facial expressions; then without a cut he pans to show the landscape and the enemy vantage points to build tension, this also draws comparisons of different warring sides.

Perhaps the most interesting subplot is that of love. One of the Samurai’s falls for a village girl. During this time period such a development was considered taboo and the best scenes are often ones of dialogue to represent a changing society.

The fact this was released quite close to the conclusion of WW2 meant it took some time for this film to gain the worldwide acclaim it deserved. However, possibly the best compliment is not of awards and accolades but the fact that many Western Films have almost the exact plotline of this film, The Magnificent Seven, The Dirty Dozen and A Fistful of Dollars (the birth of Eastwood).

This, in many ways is the world’s first action film. It includes so many themes that are still explored in films today: An opening Antagonist plot, Should the good guy get the girl? And friendships tested at points of climax. Not to mention a fair bit of intense Samurai action!

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James is the Founder and Editor of The Versatile Gent.

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