[Last Film I Saw] Seven Samurai (1954)

Seven Samurai

English Title: Seven Samurai
Original Title: Shichinin no samurai
Year: 1954
Country: Japan
Language: Japanese
Genre: Action, Adventure
Director: Akira Kurosawa
Screenwriters: Akira Kurosawa
Shinobu Hashimoto
Hideo Oguni
Music: Fumio Hayasaka
Cinematography: Asakazu Nakai
Cast:
Toshirô Mifune
Takashi Shimura
Isao Kimura
Seiji Miyaguchi
Minoru Chiaki
Daisuke Katô
Yoshio Inaba
Yoshio Tsuchiya
Bokuzen Hidari
Keiko Tsushima
Kokuten Kôdô
Kamatari Fujiwara
Yoshio Kosugi
Yukiko Shimazaki
Rating: 8.4/10

SEVEN SAMURAI, an esteemed masterpiece from the reasonably most eminent auteur, Akira Kurosawa, not only from Japan, but the wholesale film history as well, why my belated first-viewing has a tad underwhelming collision, notably juxtaposed with another Akira’s chef-d’oeuvre RASHOMON (1950), which had been my one and only entrance before SEVEN SAMURAI, this action saga of seven samurai trains local village farmers and fights against bandits has a thrilling in-depth character-building deployment and the action sequences are cutting-edge of its time. And seminally a full-flown censure upon class discrimination could reverberate till today although we are miles away from the feudal era.

Against a 207 minutes running time, surprisingly I still cannot distinctively tell each samurai from their appearances and 4 of them all died from muskets is a grave ridicule of the deprivation-ridden samurai social stratum, nothing is remotely close to any duelling-style combat which I prefigured during the much-hyped final showdown. But the camerawork from Asaichi Nakai is a first-class roller-coaster ride since the fight kicks off, leaving a woeful curtain call of four disturbing graves standing under the background which potently ends the film in a provoking manner.

The cast are excellent by and large, with Shimura gives a composed and sage leadership with his empathetic charisma, Mifune, on the other hand, is more rely on his own panache to contradict his identity dilemma (from a farmer-born orphan to an unclassified samurai-wannabe). Several supporting roles are also glistening, Bokuzen Hidari’s chicken and wordless farmer who finally delivered his only line during his last breath is striking deep in my mind. Miyaguchi’s superbly practised swordsman also exemplifies the most orthodox samurai image, they are all among the marrow of my first viewing.

The sway of the Harakiri spirit is ubiquitous, particularly among the ill-fated bandits, which occasions some random thoughts such as instead of executing themselves on the ultimate suicidal march, they could have retreated and recruited more people and then plotted their revenge which makes for a more common sense instead of being dragged from the horsed and slaughtered one by one by the samurai-farmer coalition. The storyline-setting seems to choose an easier way out and avoids undermining the film’s integrity and leaving an edgy unfinished business, nevertheless is this some overt contrivance which plain suffices to facilitate the film which should be at least pointed out? Or maybe I should watch more Japanese films to digest their ethos and frame of minds?

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