A true classic, Seven Samurai has gotten the treatment it deserves on dvd as part of the Criterion Collection.

In 1586 Japan, a village of peasant farmers fears for its survival. A large group of bandits have raided them before and plan to return once the barley has been harvested so there's something to steal. The fearful peasants turn to the ancient leader Gusaku (Kokuten Kodo), who sends them into a large town to hire samurai willing to defend them in exchange for rice and a place to sleep. (When told samurai will not work for mere, food, Gusaku responds, "Find hungry samurai.")

After innumerable disappointments and humiliations, the peasants find seven samurai to help them. This diverse group of warriors includes: Kambei (Takashi Shimada), an elderly veteran who's tired of fighting; Katsushiro (Isao Kimura), a young and idealistis samurai; Kyuzo (Seiji Miyaguchi), a warrior interest in his skill with a sword; and Kikuchiro (Toshiro Mifune), a loud and comic man who may not even be a samurai but has his uses.

When the samurai arrive at the village, preparation begins for the confrontation with the bandits (including their three muskets, which may foreshadow how guns ended the samurai tradition), from training the peasants to altering the town for defense. This period includes everything from romance to prejudice to courage and cowardice. And then there's the final defense of the town, in which waves of bandits attack the samurai and peasants.

Seven Samurai is one of those legendary movies that deserves its exalted status. This is an epic work that encompasses everything from excitement and honor to the simplicity of nature and the beauty and tragedy of life. The acting is great, the cinematography is wonderful, and long before the days of special effects and cgi this movie captured the chaos and fast of battle.

A movie of this stature deserves extended extras -- and this edition of Seven Samurai delivers. The movie itself has a crisp picture and very good sound, spread over two dvds. A third disc includes a documentary on the movie's influences and an interview with Kurosawa. Finally there's a booklet that has essays on the movie, stills from the movie, and thoughts from Toshiro Mifune on the movie. Seven Samurai is a truly extraordinary movie, and the extras here are a great way to delve deeper into what went into this movie.

Overall grade: A+
Reviewed by James Lynch

1 comment:

Chad Cloman said...

I watched this some years ago and, while it was memorable, I don't see it as a 10/10, super-fantastic, must-watch movie. But that's just me.