DVD Title
Seven Samurai
International Title
Seven Samurai
DVD Length Original Length
207 Minutes 207 Minutes
Company Year of Manufacture
Criterion 1998
Language Subtitles
Japanese English
Region Number of Discs
1 1
Aspect Ratio Sound
1.33:1 1.0 Mono
. Menus (English)
. Chapters (30)
. Trailers: Seven Samurai
. Restoration Demo (Present only on initial pressing release)
. Audio Commentary by Michael Jeck
Criterion's release of Akira Kurosawa's most famous film. This disc dates way back to 1998, when the DVD format was still struggling for market-wide acceptance, and was actually the first Toho DVD to hit any of the regions, beating out Simitar's Godzilla films by a month. With that being said, the disc certainly shows its age and it pales in terms of the quality one has come to expect from Criterion. The video and audio quality are both flawed here, while the extras showcase what one could expect from DVDs released at this time; however, it's still the best way to experience Seven Samurai in the US, and this disc marks the first time in video history that the entire film would be present on one source, instead of two like the VHS releases.

 Video: Star Rating

It would be unfair for one to judge Criterion's dedication to quality on their Seven Samurai DVD, as the video presentation presents numerous problems but was only their second attempt on the format at the time. The biggest issue, though, is simply the condition of the print and the amount of compression used, as the film appears blurred and lacks any kind of sharp definition. The movie contains noticeable film damage as well such as numerous scratches and flickering, an inconsistent changing of light levels.

 Audio: Star Rating

The audio presentation on this DVD is a mono track, which is the film's original format. The audio track is noticeable improved over the video presentation, although the dialogue still sounds scratchy, or rough, in spots. Thankfully, there are no hisses or pops in the audio track though, something which is stable on all of Criterion's releases. Unlike some other early releases, the English subtitles which compliment the film here are removable. Unfortunately the subtitles aren't up to the standards set by other Criterion releases, for which the company usually commissions completely new translations to be done, as a small portion of the dialogue isn't accompanied by subtitles.


The extras on this disc are adequate, although far from noteworthy. At least the film has one of its original Japanese trailer present. The main draw here, though, is the audio commentary done by Michael Jeck, a Japanese film expert. Jeck's commentary is a little arrogant at times, but still offers some good insight into the film, its influence, and background information on its actors. On a select few releases of this DVD, a restoration demo was included as an extra; however, discs containing this extra are incredibly rare, and go for a asking price of over $100.

 Overview: Star Rating

Bottom line is that this is an adequate transfer, considering when the DVD was released, of Japan's best known film, although the $30-40 price tag is arguably too far high. However, it's a good deal when packaged with the $90-100 dollar box set. Given the overall video presentation, though, especially in contrast to the much better Toho region 2 Seven Samurai set, one can only hope that Criterion picks to "double dip" on this film and release a vastly superior edition in the future.

This disc is also featured in the DVD box set, Akira Kurosawa Four Samurai Classics.

- Anthony Romeros
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