“Japanese films all tend to be rather bland in flavor, like green tea over rice, I think we ought to have richer foods, and richer films. So I thought I would make this kind of film entertaining enough to eat.”- Akira Kurasowa
This week's movie of the week is, The Seven Samurai.
A veteran samurai, who has fallen on hard times, answers a village's request for protection from bandits. He gathers 6 other samurai to help him, they teach the townspeople how to defend themselves, and they supply the samurai with three small meals a day. The film culminates in a giant battle when 40 bandits attack the village.
Watch the trailer here:
Often credited to be the first modern action movie. Many now commonly used cinematographic and plot elements - such as slow motion for dramatic flair and the reluctant hero to name a couple - are seen for perhaps the first time. Other movies may have used them separately before, but Kurosawa brought them all together.
According to a Japanese film scholar, one of the things that inspired this film was an account the director read about a actual village who hired samurai to protect them.
Kurosawa's original idea for the movie he was to make was a film about a day in the life of a samurai, beginning with him rising from his bed and ending with him making some mistake that required him to kill himself to save face. Despite a good deal of research, he did not feel he had enough solid factual information to make the movie, but came across the above-mentioned anecdote about a village hiring samurai to protect them and decided to use that idea. Kurosawa wrote a complete dossier for each character with a speaking role. In it was details about what they wore, their favorite foods, their past history, their speaking habits, and every other detail he could think of about them. No other Japanese director had ever done this.
Spoiler: The only three samurai survivors, Shichiroji, Katsushiro and Kambei, were the first three title character actors to die in real life: Daisuke Kato; (Shichiroji) died in 1975, Isao Kimura (Katsushiro) died in 1981 and Takashi Shimura (Kambei) died in 1982.
When the samurai are giving battle advice to the peasants, who sit around them forming a circle, the camera does a rather wide circle shot of them. You can see the camera track for the shot in most of scene behind the sitting peasants.
Gorobei Katayama: You're Good.
Heihachi Hayashida: Yeah, yeah. But I'm better at killing enemies.
Gorobei Katayama: Killed many?
Heihachi Hayashida: Well - It's impossible to kill 'em all, so I ususally run away.
Gorobei Katayama: A splendid principle!
Heihachi Hayashida: Thank you.
My seven samurai wallpaper:
Four outta four a true classic.