Quick-Thoughts: Akira Kurosawa’s Seven Samurai (1954)

Akira Kurosawa Binge Part III of IX

“What are we? Some kind of Samurai Squad?” – not a real quote; please don’t @ me. 

There’s something very advantageous about lengthy epics like Akira Kurosawa’s acclaimed and influential masterpiece Seven Samurai. Sure, not every dragged out, 3-hour feature-length is a feat of cinema, but every extended movie has that dominant opportunity to include more substance and development in its all-embracing piece. There’s always so much more space for characters and scenarios to expand and appear authentic in a sort-of “real-time” presence. Witnessing this three-and-a-half-hour-long anecdote is like closely observing a seed of an idea progressively blossom into a mighty beast of an empire. The vivid dynamics between every character in Seven Samurai are advanced and unparalleled in quality to most adventure pictures despite how long ago it was made. For a film that was released in 1954, I can whole-heartedly now see how this journey of a chronicle—as everybody has already said a kajillion times—changed EVERYTHING for the world of storytelling and filmmaking. 

And, I’ve got to finally mention this magnificent actor, as I forgot to mention how terrific he was in my review of Rashomon. In my eyes as of now, Toshiro Mifune was, in a way, the “James Dean” of 1950s Japanese cinema, where his extroverted acting capacity just seemed so ahead of its time. In Seven Samurai, his stand-out character Kikuchiyo appears so animated yet down-to-earth, which further discloses the hard-working and committed performance that Mifune seemed to bring so out of the blue from pure passion. Takashi Shimura, Isao Kimura, Seiji Miyaguchi, and Yoshio Tsuchiya are also all terrific actors who victoriously elevate Kurosawa and Shinobu Hashimoto’s writing to craft undeniably distinctive and legendary characters. 

I have but one nitpick with Seven Samurai: there are a variety of moments were scenes are just cut off early or significant events are simply explained through dialogue. I know the movie is already stretching itself at a hefty 207 minutes, but it would’ve been nice to have less jarring downsizes and more prolonged transitions to make the final product a bit slicker. Then again, that’s legitimately the only complaint I have with this masterclass of cinema. Everything else surrounding Seven Samurai is FAULTLESS.

Verdict: A

Akira Kurosawa Ranked

“Seven Samurai” is now available to stream on Vudu, YouTube, Google Play, iTunes, and The Criterion Channel. 


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