Seven Samurai (1954)

For the discussion of Toho produced and distributed films or shows released before 1980.
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Seven Samurai (1954)

Postby therealmccoy » Thu Nov 17, 2011 6:16 pm

I looked around and couldn't find a thread for this, so I thought I'd make one myself and see if it would generate any interesting discussion.

I've only recently became acquainted with this genre of film, and this was my first. This is, to date, arguably my favorite Toho film after seeing it this past year. It is also arguably my all-time favorite movie. I really can't put a finger on any single thing in this film that dragged it down for me. Most every character of any amount of importance to the plot are developed fairly well, and they all give rather memorable performances. I've only seen about six films with Toshiro Mifune as a main character, and this is my favorite of his roles. The same goes for Takashi Shimura. His role was just as enjoyable to me as was Mifune's. For the rest of the samurai, we get tidbits of information about them, but what information we do get seems to speak miles for each of the characters. The farmers shouldn't go without notice either. Of the farmers, Rikichi (Yoshio Tsuchiya) and Yohei (Bokuzen Hidari) were my favorites, and in my opinion gave the most memorable performances of that group.

So, if there are any other fans here, feel free to participate.
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Re: Seven Samurai (1954)

Postby DaikaijuSokogeki! » Thu Nov 17, 2011 6:32 pm

Seven Samurai is one of the few 3+ hour films I have ever seen that I don't believe drags even once. To name a few examples, The Lord of the Rings trilogy and Peter Jackson's King Kong brutally pad themselves out with slow-motion, I don't find the Michael Corleone storyline in The Godfather Part II that engaging (at least compared to Vito's past), and even Kurosawa's own Kagemusha drags at early scenes.

Seven Samurai on the other hand is full of important character development, intense fight sequences, and top-notch acting that all make the movie a complete thrill from beginning to end. It's not my favorite Kurosawa film, but I totally understand its importance to cinema as a whole.

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Re: Seven Samurai (1954)

Postby therealmccoy » Thu Nov 17, 2011 6:37 pm

Going into this film, as I said before, I was completely new to the non-sci-fi Toho film experience. I was thinking to myself that this film was probably very good, but that it wasn't as good as all of the praise surrounding it. I was wrong. I can honestly say that I can't point out any aspect of the film that felt either rushed or overly drawn out, or unnecessary for that matter. It really was as good as people said it was.
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Re: Seven Samurai (1954)

Postby DaikaijuSokogeki! » Thu Nov 17, 2011 6:43 pm

therealmccoy wrote:Going into this film, as I said before, I was completely new to the non-sci-fi Toho film experience. I was thinking to myself that this film was probably very good, but that it wasn't as good as all of the praise surrounding it. I was wrong. I can honestly say that I can't point out any aspect of the film that felt either rushed or overly drawn out, or unnecessary for that matter. It really was as good as people said it was.


I can't even imagine watching the original US theatrical version, which cut roughly 40 minutes out of the film. I mean...what can be cut (intermission doesn't count)?

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Re: Seven Samurai (1954)

Postby therealmccoy » Thu Nov 17, 2011 6:46 pm

DaikaijuSokogeki! wrote:I can't even imagine watching the original US theatrical version, which cut roughly 40 minutes out of the film. I mean...what can be cut (intermission doesn't count)?

I was unaware that there was a US version even in existence. I agree, I don't see any "extra fat" that even remotely needed to be cut out of the film.
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Re: Seven Samurai (1954)

Postby Legionmaster » Thu Nov 17, 2011 6:55 pm

Pssh. It's just The Magnificant Seven. :P

I think it makes an interesting companion piece to Gojira. Framing them both under the heading "Japan: Modernization and Globalization" provides a lot of interesting parallels. From Japan/US relations to technological advancement, both works are pretty rich in Japanese attitudes of the time, and manage to tackle the points from a lot of angles. I think Gojira becomes a little heavy-handed in the end from this standpoint, whereas Seven Samurai is a little less determined, but the tone of the two films is eerily similar.
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Re: Seven Samurai (1954)

Postby therealmccoy » Fri Nov 18, 2011 5:31 am

I seem to have trouble finding the relationships between Kurosawa's films and American westerns. I know they're there, I just have trouble with it. Plus, I haven't watched many westerns from that period anyway.
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Re: Seven Samurai (1954)

Postby Huan_of_Valinor » Fri Nov 18, 2011 5:55 pm

DaikaijuSokogeki! wrote:Seven Samurai is one of the few 3+ hour films I have ever seen that I don't believe drags even once. To name a few examples, The Lord of the Rings trilogy and Peter Jackson's King Kong brutally pad themselves out with slow-motion, I don't find the Michael Corleone storyline in The Godfather Part II that engaging (at least compared to Vito's past), and even Kurosawa's own Kagemusha drags at early scenes.

Seven Samurai on the other hand is full of important character development, intense fight sequences, and top-notch acting that all make the movie a complete thrill from beginning to end. It's not my favorite Kurosawa film, but I totally understand its importance to cinema as a whole.


i agree with all of this except the LotR. There's a massive amount detail from the books that was left out of the movies, and to be honest i didn't think that it dragged as badly as king kong (which had absolutely no excuse for being as long as it was)

as for seven samurai, it is an utterly amazing movie, superior to it's remake in every way imaginable. and the magnificent seven is a pretty good movie
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Re: Seven Samurai (1954)

Postby The Dark Uniter » Fri Nov 18, 2011 6:03 pm

Tyler wrote:I always thought you could compare Citizen Kane and King Kong (both from '33) with Seven Samurai and Godzilla (from '54).


Actually, Citizen Kane was from '41. I gotten film back during the summer Criterion sale at Barnes and Noble sale and the movie to me is good, but not great. The only real standout performance to me is Mifune. The battle scenes, though, are excellent. Out of the 4 Kurosawa films I have, I prefer High and Low and Yojimbo over Seven Samurai, my opinion of course.

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Re: Seven Samurai (1954)

Postby Ethan » Fri Nov 18, 2011 6:14 pm

Legionmaster wrote:Pssh. It's just The Magnificant Seven. :P

I think it makes an interesting companion piece to Gojira. Framing them both under the heading "Japan: Modernization and Globalization" provides a lot of interesting parallels. From Japan/US relations to technological advancement, both works are pretty rich in Japanese attitudes of the time, and manage to tackle the points from a lot of angles. I think Gojira becomes a little heavy-handed in the end from this standpoint, whereas Seven Samurai is a little less determined, but the tone of the two films is eerily similar.

Don't they share some locations too?
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Re: Seven Samurai (1954)

Postby Space Hunter M » Fri Nov 18, 2011 6:33 pm

Ethan wrote:Don't they share some locations too?

If that's true, I'd make an edit of Godzilla coming over the hill instead of the bandits.
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Re: Seven Samurai (1954)

Postby tymon » Sun Nov 20, 2011 4:03 am

My favorite movie, it has such an epic feel and all the characters are awesome. I really need to see more Kurosawa, as this is my only exposure to him...
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Re: Seven Samurai (1954)

Postby therealmccoy » Sun Nov 20, 2011 9:47 am

Cimmerian Dragon wrote:If you had watched a lot of '40s and '50s westerns, believe me, you couldn't not see it. The fronteir settlements accosted by bandits, one-street towns ruled by criminals until a lone stranger comes in out of the wastes, the general sense of individualism and non-reliance on authority, much of Kurosawa's early Samurai pictures play like love-letters to John Ford. Yojimbo and Sanjuro especially, they even end with Wild West showdowns that merely swap swords for guns (and in Yojimbo, Kurosawa even brings a cowboy six-shooter in the fight).

Just watch The Magnificent Seven or A Fistful of Dollars (great films in their own right), and watch how effortlessly the plot of Kurosawa's pictures translate into that genre.

Now I understand. I've seen a fair share of westerns, but I just never put two and two together. That's something I can use in my review. It still doesn't make it any easier tough; there's a boatload of material to go over. But my love for the film is helping me out a lot.
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Re: Seven Samurai (1954)

Postby Rody » Thu Mar 14, 2013 1:15 pm

At last, I have seen Seven Samurai!

Watching this film, I was impressed by how believable and emotional of a film could be crafted from what is really a very simple story. This is definitely a character driven movie.
Kambei is a kindhearted and selfless man, but he is also clever and pragmatic.
Kikuchio is the polar opposite. Where Kambei is modest and wise, Kikuchio is cocky and reckless. He is also the most free spirited and smart alecky of the group, and ultimately I think he is the heart & soul of the group. He can be obnoxious at times, but his quirky character is the one I connected to the most.
Although Kambei and Kikuchio seem to take center stage, the rest of the cast gets good attention as well. Katsushiro and Rikichi are zealous, if inexperienced, warriors. Katsushiro is devoted to his "master" Kambei and awed by Kyuzo's fighting prowess. Rikichi is aggressive and persevering in spirit, wanting to stand and protect his village as best as humanely possible. Manzo is a selfish coward, and is almost immediately dis-likable. Kyuzo is very - I'd say "business-like" in character. He doesn't seem to particularly like or dislike what he does; he just does it, as efficiently as he can. Gorobei, Shichiro and Hehachi don't get as much focus, but all three are friendly, bright spirited fellows who bring a certain warmth to the screen. When you put all of these characters together, you get remarkable chemistry that is sad, funny, or serious when it should be.
The plot is very interesting, because it plays out not as a pre-planned script, but as a series of real-life scenarios that naturally progress from one to the other, often unpredictably. It's amazing in its writing and direction.
there are a few aspects which left me confused or unsatisfied, though. I'm not clear on the issue regarding Rikichi's wife, and I wasn't satisfied with the subplot regarding Katsushiro and Shino. These aren't major issues, though.

I was very satisfied with Seven Samurai. It is definitely one of the best movies I've yet seen, and I look forward to seeing more of Kurosawa's films.
9/10.

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Re: Seven Samurai (1954)

Postby eabaker » Thu Mar 14, 2013 1:22 pm

What are you unclear on with Rikichi's wife?

Rikichi, by the way, is probably my favorite character in the movie. I love the whole aspect of the differentiations between the classes breaking down as the crisis escalates, to the point that, in the end, Rikichi is almost unrecognizable... and then everything snaps back when the crisis is over.

Very much in keeping with Kurosawa's movies in general, we have the illusions peeled away to reveal the truth underneath, but the final truth is that people will always cling to their illusions.
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Re: Seven Samurai (1954)

Postby Legionmaster » Thu Mar 14, 2013 1:30 pm

eabaker wrote:Very much in keeping with Kurosawa's movies in general, we have the illusions peeled away to reveal the truth underneath, but the final truth is that people will always cling to their illusions.

Ah, but if you read the film as an allegory for reconstructionist Japan, then what you've labled as the illusion may very well be the practical truth. The illusion is of the unified Japan working together; the mid-crisis zeal quickly fades in the monotony of day-to-day life.
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Re: Seven Samurai (1954)

Postby eabaker » Thu Mar 14, 2013 1:55 pm

Legionmaster wrote:
eabaker wrote:Very much in keeping with Kurosawa's movies in general, we have the illusions peeled away to reveal the truth underneath, but the final truth is that people will always cling to their illusions.

Ah, but if you read the film as an allegory for reconstructionist Japan, then what you've labled as the illusion may very well be the practical truth. The illusion is of the unified Japan working together; the mid-crisis zeal quickly fades in the monotony of day-to-day life.


Well, reading Kurosawa's films for themes of illusion vs. truth, one finds him often ambivalent about both the roles and the definitions of both elements. The class distinctions are not the fundumental truth of the individuals - personal identity is mutable - but the pragmatic truth of the society is that the class distinctions serve a purpose, and the truth of most individuals is that they need the structure provided by shared illusions.
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Re: Seven Samurai (1954)

Postby Rody » Thu Mar 14, 2013 3:26 pm

eabaker wrote:What are you unclear on with Rikichi's wife?

Although it was made blatantly obvious that the bandits kidnapped her, when Rikichi finally has a chance to rescue her, she rushes into the burning building as soon as she sees him.
Why??? Was she hiding some sort of secret? Was she shamed to such a level by the bandits that she would rather die than face her husband?

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Re: Seven Samurai (1954)

Postby eabaker » Thu Mar 14, 2013 3:29 pm

Rody wrote:
eabaker wrote:What are you unclear on with Rikichi's wife?

Although it was made blatantly obvious that the bandits kidnapped her, when Rikichi finally has a chance to rescue her, she rushes into the burning building as soon as she sees him.
Why??? Was she hiding some sort of secret? Was she shamed to such a level by the bandits that she would rather die than face her husband?


It was shame. She'd been debased and could not live with the idea of her husband seeing what she had become.
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Re: Seven Samurai (1954)

Postby Rody » Fri Mar 15, 2013 10:16 am

Okay; so maybe I understood after all.
Methinks I need to thin my thick head a little bit. :lol:

Moving on... I'm definitely growing a liking for actor Takashi Shimura. Between Ikiru, Seven Samurai, and Gojira, I am already noticing his knack for playing characters with remarkably different personalities, yet always coming across as a kind and loveable man.


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