Seven Samurai (1954) starring Takashi Shimura, Toshiro Mifune, Isao Kimura, Daisuke Kato, Minoru Chiaki, Seiji Miyaguchi, Yoshio Inaba, Keiko Tsushima, Yoshio Tsuchiya, Kamatari Fujiwara directed by Akira Kurosawa Movie Review

Seven Samurai (1954)   4/54/54/54/54/5

Seven Samurai (1954)

Great but not Great

A poor Japanese village becomes aware that bandits will be coming back when their barley crop has grown to steal it and so decide to take a stand by sending a group to look for a Samurai to protect them. They find themselves a veteran Samurai who agrees to help in return for two meals a day and he gathers together 6 more Samurai to help not only defend the village from the bandits but teach them how to defend themselves ready for when the bandits attack.

"Seven Samurai" is one of the most highly regarded movies in the history of cinema and as such I need to start this review by quantifying a few things. Whilst I love foreign cinema I prefer European cinema rather than Japanese cinema. As a western fan I adore "The Magnificent Seven" but have never been a huge fan of Samurai movies. I have no objection to long movies but only when it is justified and not full of scenes which in my opinion have little importance in the bigger picture. With that all said I now have to tell you that "Seven Samurai" is a movie which leaves me conflicted; the cinema fan in me can appreciate the artistry involved in the making of this movie but the man looking to be entertained finds it drawn out and not that entertaining.

Now I am sure there are those who will be reaching for their Samurai swords in horror at what I said but it is just how I feel. You see every scene in "Seven Samurai" is crafted and what Akira Kurosawa has achieved when you remember this movie is now 60 years old is astonishing. The detail, the beauty, the ability to tell a story it is technically impressive and you would have to be hard hearted not to appreciate the craftsmanship in the way scenes are built especially when you play close attention to the action and realise how few edits are involved.

But as I said from an entertainment point of view it suffers and the first third of "Seven Samurai" feels drawn out to the point that it saps you if you are looking for entertainment. It is also during the opening third where for me there are superfluous scenes, shots of water wheels and so on which may paint a picture for those seeking cinematic art does little for those seeking entertainment. Of course you switch focus to the final third and there are no complaints at all with stunning action but it is a test of patience to get to that point.

What this all boils down to is that "Seven Samurai" on one hand does deserve to be known as a great movie because it is an amazing piece of cinema which many movies have followed when it comes to its narrative. But as a piece of entertainment it doesn't quite work and suffers from being drawn out especially during the first hour as it seems to be meandering and getting nowhere.