A village hires a group of unemployed samurai
warriors to help them fight off an army of bandits.
Seven Samurai (1954)
Directed by Akira Kurosawa
Written by Akira Kurosawa, Shinobu Hashimoto, Hideo Oguni
Starring Toshirô Mifune, Takashi Shimura, Daisuke Katô,
Isao Kimura, Minoru Chiaki, Seiji Miyaguchi, Yoshio Inaba,
Yoshio Tsuchiya, Bokuzen Hidari, Keiko Tsushima
Oscar Nominations - Best Art Direction, Best Costume Design
Seven Samurai is considered one of the greatest cinematic achievements of all time and quite possibly the most influential film to come out of Japan. Film critics everywhere refer to it as Akira Kurosawa's masterpiece, and it's difficult to argue that. I found it to be compelling, operatic, and well-acted. But, frankly, it does not need to be three and a half hours long. There are a lot of lulls in between significant scenes, and those lulls last for a long time. I'm ashamed to say there were times that I felt myself nodding off. Also, and I had the same problem with 1960's The Magnificent Seven, most of the characters don't get nearly developed enough to care about them when they're in peril. I know this cuts down my street cred, but I had to be honest.
A village is constantly raided by a bandit army, and they have no way of defending themselves. They come up with the idea to hire samurai to help them, but all they have to offer is scraps of food. Still, they find a group of wandering warriors who agree to help them. Most of the film is watching these samurai bond with each other, and the final battle is pretty much the last hour of the movie. There's far more dull moments than I expected, and there's so much padding, like they were trying to make this thing as long as possible.
I have no problem with anyone who considers Seven Samurai to be Kurosawa's masterpiece. That's fine, and I get it. Personally, this Japanese classic didn't really do it for me. It's way too long and is mostly forgettable, apart from the exciting last hour. There's too many characters to juggle and not enough substance within them. Again, sorry to you samurai junkies out there. I liked The Hidden Fortress better.