The Seven Samurai

Japan, 1954, 208 mins. Director: Akira Kurosawa. Stars: Toshiro Mifune, Takashi Shimura, Yoshio Inaba.

If you haven't seen The Seven Samurai, you're in for a great time. Not only is it one of Kurosawa's most famous films, it's a bonafide classic of epic action cinema. Like Yojimbo, it's one of the best Westerns yet made. (Okay, it's in Japanese, and everyone's wearing kimonos and saying "hai", but it's still a Western—and was remade by Hollywood as The Magnificent Seven.)

The Seven Samurai follows a lone warrior's attempts to recruit a band of tough guys to save a helpless village from the baddies. A simple plot, perhaps, but with everything else the film has to offer, you'll soon forget that it's in black and white, is over three hours long, and has subtitles. You'll be too intrigued by the dialogue (including, as in many a fine serious film, plenty of humour), the action (the final battle, filmed in the rain, is unforgettable), the characters, and the fascinating insight into 19th century Japanese feudal society. For all these reasons, you'll want to see The Seven Samurai.

1991, 1994

First published in a reviews booklet of the ANU Film Group.
This page: 31 January 2000; last modified 16 February 2001.

©1991, 1994, 2000 Rory Ewins