Movie review: Seven Samurai: Criterion Collection (1954)

I've seen recommendations regarding this movie many times before, and it's been on my "purchase" list for almost the same amount of time. However, I decided, since I had a trial to Netflix, that I may as well make it one of the first movies that I saw. Now that I've watched the movie, I must admit that it's still on my buy list.

Again, according to Netflix,

Akira Kurosawa's heroic tale of honor and duty begins with master samurai Kambei (Takashi Shimura) posing as a monk to save a kidnapped child. Impressed by his bravery, a group of farmers begs him to defend their village from encroaching bandits. Kambei agrees and assembles a group of six other samurai, and together they build a militia with the villagers while the bandits loom nearby. Soon the raids begin, culminating in a bloody battle.

Numerous times during this movie I recalled the movie Lawrence of Arabia. This movie truly contains a great story, but unlike Lawrence, it kept me captivated during the entire show. (Although, full disclaimer, I did forward through the Intermission.) Compared to most of the movies shot today, the movie is slow and the battle is truly less than epic.

Yet, we can't compare Seven Samurai to today's movie, for it, unlike most today, is driven by the story, and the characters. In fact, the characters are what you must really pay attention to in order to understand the movie for what (I believe) it's trying to point out about the complexities of man. Of course, it also takes place in a different era, with a different people, who believe in things much differently than people do today.

But that's not to say that the movie is dated, as the opposite is quite the case. The movie is, in many ways, timeless.

I give this movie high ratings in all areas save it's ability to be watched by all. The young can hardly be expected to pay attention to over three hours of one movie, and the dialogue is the true feature. Likewise, since the movie is spoken Japanese and English subtitles, anyone that doesn't like "foreign" films won't like this one either. Need a lot of action? The action at the end may satisfy you, but it probably won't.

Nonetheless, I enjoyed the movie, so if you happen to like a movie that's driven by the characters and story, and you don't mind reading, and you may have some interested in 'feudal' Japan, check this movie out.

Rated: UR
3 hr 28 min
Watched with Japanese with English Subtitles

Want to see what else I've watched through Netflix? Check out the list, and my attempt to track Netflix shipping for Madison WI.