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Kurosawa’s admiration for the American western, and his love for the films of John Ford, became evident to western audiences for the first time with this thrilling epic, though at the time they were denied the opportunity of seeing the film in its original form – believing that, at about 3 ½ hours, the film would be too taxing for foreigners, the Japanese producers insisted on shortening it by almost an hour, which is how it was seen for many years (including its Australian debut at the Sydney Film Festival). Set in the 16th Century, the film introduces the peasant inhabitants of a remote village who live in fear of the annual raid by vicious bandits who steal their crops and rape their women. They hire seven samurai, professional warriors, to protect them, and though the money they offer is paltry they find a leader (Takashi Shimura) willing to recruit a team and accept the challenge. The meticulous build-up to the vigorously staged action that constitutes the last third of the film is vital to establish the characters of both the peasants and the samurai, with Toshiro Mifune’s ‘fake’ samurai the film’s most intriguing character. Hollywood has twice transformed the film into a western, in 1960 and again in 2016.
- David Stratton.
Presented in association with The Japan Foundation, Sydney Film Festival and ACMI.
SEVEN SAMURAI Rights: Madman Entertainment. Print Source: The Japan Foundation
© 1954 Toho Co., Ltd.