My limited knowledge of films of the past is something I always look to fix as best I can. Perhaps the best way to go about solving such an issue is to watch the movies that have directly inspired what I’ve recently watched, or am going to watch. The depth that Seven Samurai holds is beyond that of any other movie. A seemingly timeless classic that has been adapted in various forms more than a dozen times. It’s what makes it such a strong adaptation that interests me the most.
With such a strong setting and great feel for the characters, director Akira Kurosawa presents one of his many classics. A simple story that follows a group of farmers hiring seven samurai to fend off raging thieves that plunder their land. Takashi Shimura paves the way for consistently enjoyable performances, bringing the other six eclectic members together in tremendous fashion. His leading role as Kambei Shimada is brilliant, a superb turn by a consistent collaborator of Kurosawa’s works.
Alongside Shimura are some evidently enjoyable characters, each their own unique story to tell. Somehow Seven Samurai manages to flesh out all of these characters in great detail, an impressive feat for a project so large. Seiji Miyaguchi’s performance as Kyūzō is a personal favourite of mine, the talented yet stone faced killer of the group, he offers up some more relentlessly emotional scenes in the latter half of the movie than the other characters can manage.
That’s not to say the other characters cannot offer up the same performances. Each of the seven provide truly wonderful and perfectly crafted performances that will amaze audiences to this day. My only concern is that of the rest of the cast, some of which are poor actors in both quality and depth. They’re enough to detract from the film at its most engaging and pressing of times, but can be overlooked clearly by the casting of the seven samurai warriors.
What Seven Samurai lacks in overall action; it makes up for in character development. Gestures of honour and pride litter the film with genuinely interesting characters, many of which we spend more than a handful of hours with. It’s hard to connect with so many characters at once, but it’s easy to pick out your favourite in Seven Samurai and hope for the best.
A movie of this scale and calibre will always be impressive. Seven Samurai is a tightly written, classic piece of cinema that has been the subject of soft and hard reboots over the many decades it has been around. Providing a great entry piece for those would be fans of Akira Kurosawa, Seven Samurai is a prime example of story driven filmmaking done correctly. It sets out clear, simple aims, and has them accomplished by the bitter end of the film.