Seven Samurai (Shichinin No Samurai) (1954)



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Seven Samurai may be Akira Kurosawa’s greatest film. It is also his first Samurai film. The movie clocks in at 3:27, which is 25 minutes longer than Avengers: Endgame. There is a built-in intermission which you should consider taking a break during, so you remain undistracted for the second half.

The run time is not the only comparison to be made with Avengers: Endgame. Seven Samurai may be the first ‘superhero’ assembly movie. A small farming village is threatened by bandits when they seek help from a Samurai. The villagers find an older Samurai willing to help for three meals a day. He alone is not enough to protect the village, so he starts recruiting more Samurai. It is not easy, but eventually, he has a team of six Samurai, and they return to the village. Kikuchiyo, Toshiro Mifune the lead in The Hidden Fortress, tags along behind the other Samurai with his massive sword balanced over his shoulder.

Kikuchiyo brings a lot of fun and levity to the movie. He is the class clown and relies heavily on a comedic physical presence. He was my favorite part of the film and I can see why Kurosawa constantly cast him. The rest of the Samurai are not fans of Kikuchiyo. His youthful exuberance and lack of strict adherence to the Samurai code make him an outcast until they need his help.

Isao Kimura plays Katsushiro, a Samurai desperate for training. His youthfulness and over-ambition bring more depth to the team. He is also one half of the love story with Shino, Keiko Tsushima. The love story is a nice departure from the battle planning and brings more realism to a young Samurai. It also gives us all another view of village life and the stakes of the upcoming battle.

This was Akira Kurosawa’s first Samurai movie and it was a landmark debut. It is impossible to see Seven Samurai and not see its lingering effects on subsequent movies from around the world. Any Kurosawa film could be a film class on its own, but Seven Samurai is on another level with the grandiosity of it. This is a must-watch for any film fan. This is the Avengers a decade before the Hulk or Iron Man existed on paper. Set some time aside, get comfortable, and watch a cinematic masterpiece.

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©2019 by Sean Whitehurst