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  • Writer's pictureRonny Duncan Studios

Seven Samurai (1954)

Updated: Oct 16, 2022


Plot Summary: Bandits threaten a mountain village by stealing their crops and leaving them to starve. The village elder suggests hiring a samurai to protect them. They soon hire Kambei Shimada (Takashi Shimura) and he assembles a band of five other samurai. First harassed by Kikuchiyo (Toshiro Mifune) who lies about being a samurai, he soon becomes the emotional leader of the group.


Cast:

  • Toshiro Mifune as Kikuchiyo (菊千代)

  • Takashi Shimura as Kambei Shimada (島田勘兵衛, Shimada Kanbei)

  • Daisuke Katō as Shichirōji (七郎次)

  • Isao Kimura as Katsushirō Okamoto (岡本勝四郎, Okamoto Katsushirō)

  • Minoru Chiaki as Heihachi Hayashida (林田平八, Hayashida Heihachi)

  • Seiji Miyaguchi as Kyūzō (久蔵)

  • Yoshio Inaba as Gorōbei Katayama (片山五郎兵衛, Katayama Gorōbei)

  • Yoshio Tsuchiya as Rikichi (利吉)

  • Bokuzen Hidari as Yohei (与平)

  • Yukiko Shimazaki as Rikichi's wife

  • Kamatari Fujiwara as Manzō (万造)

  • Keiko Tsushima as Shino (志乃)

  • Kokuten Kōdō as Gisaku (儀作) or Old Man

*Recognition:

  • In 1982, it was voted number three in the Sight & Sound critics' poll of greatest films.

  • In the Sight & Sound directors' poll, it was voted at number ten in 1992 and number nine in 2002.

  • It also ranked number seventeen on the 2012 Sight & Sound critics' poll, in both cases being tied with Kurosawa's own Rashomon (1950).

  • It also ranked at number seventeen in 2012 Sight & Sound directors' poll.

  • In 1998, the film was ranked at number five in Time Out magazine's Top 100 Films (Centenary).

  • In 2000, the film was ranked at No.23 in The Village Voice's 100 Greatest Films list. Seven Samurai has also been ranked number one on Empire magazine's list of "The 100 Best Films of World Cinema" in 2010.

  • Kurosawa both directed and edited many of his films, including Seven Samurai. In 2012, the Motion Picture Editors Guild listed Seven Samurai as the 33rd best-edited film of all time based on a survey of its members.

  • In 2018, it was voted the greatest foreign-language film of all time in BBC's poll of 209 critics in 43 countries.

  • In 2019, when Time Out polled film critics, directors, actors and stunt actors, Seven Samurai was voted the second best action film of all time.

Did You Know:

  • Often credited as the first modern action movie. Many now commonly used cinematographic and plot elements--such as slow motion for dramatic flair and the reluctant hero to name a couple--are seen for perhaps the first time. Other movies may have used them separately before, but Akira Kurosawa brought them all together.

  • Not only was this Toshirô Mifune's favorite of his own films, but he named Kikuchiyo as his favorite role, because he was able to "be himself."

  • This film is often described as the greatest Japanese film ever made, including by well-known Japanese film historian Donald Richie and by "Entertainment Weekly", in its list of The 100 Greatest Films of All Time. Interestingly, despite its widespread commercial popularity, it was not particularly highly regarded by Japanese critics at the time of its release (the early 1950s is now regarded as a sort of Golden Age of Japanese cinema).

  • As the production process grew longer and longer, producers grew worried that Akira Kurosawa was spending too much on the film. As a result, production was closed down "at least twice." Instead of arguing, Kurosawa simply left to go fishing, believing that the studio had already invested so much money into the film that they wouldn't simply scrap it. He was right.

  • The first draft, written by Shinobu Hashimoto, was written "freely," as instructed by Akira Kurosawa, and wound up 500 pages long.

  • Seiji Miyaguchi, who played the taciturn samurai Kyuzo, had not touched a sword at all before this movie. Editing and careful cinematography were both used to give the impression that he was a master.

  • Shortly before filming of the battle sequence began, heavy snow fell, which meant the crew had to water down the set in order to melt the snow. That, plus the scripted plan to shoot the sequence in a dramatic torrential downpour, meant that the cast was working in deep, thick mud. Because it was the dead of winter, the mud would often grow frozen, leaving the cast--in their period-accurate sandals--freezing as they tried to carry out the action. Akira Kurosawa himself, who stood in the mud with his actors, apparently grew so cold that he started to lose his toenails.

  • At 207 minutes, this would be the longest picture of Akira Kurosawa's career.

What is this movie is about?/Elevator Pitch: Action-Adventure film about noble Samurai coming together to play the protector of a desperate village.


Best Performance: Toshiro Mifune (Kikuchiyo)/Akira Kurosawa (Director)

Best Secondary Performance: Takashi Shimura (Kambei)

Most Charismatic Award: Bokuzen Hidari (Yohei)/Toshiro Mifune (Kikuchiyo)

Best Scene:

  • Scouting Party

  • Kyuzo Wins a Duel

  • Burning Down the Camp

  • Kikuchiyo Joins In

  • Kikuchiyo Explains His Past

  • Katsushiro "Becomes a Man"

  • Ending Battle

Favorite Scene: Kikuchiyo Explains His Past/Ending Battle

Most Indelible Moment: Ending Battle


In Memorium: None


Best Lines/Funniest Lines:

Kambei Shimada: So. Again we are defeated. The farmers have won. Not us.


Kambei Shimada: This is the nature of war. By protecting others, you save yourself. If you only think of yourself, you'll only destroy yourself.


Kikuchiyo: What do you think of farmers? You think they're saints? Hah! They're foxy beasts! They say, "We've got no rice, we've no wheat. We've got nothing!" But they have! They have everything! Dig under the floors! Or search the barns! You'll find plenty! Beans, salt, rice, sake! Look in the valleys, they've got hidden warehouses! They pose as saints but are full of lies! If they smell a battle, they hunt the defeated! They're nothing but stingy, greedy, blubbering, foxy, and mean! God damn it all! But then . . . who made them such beasts? You did! You samurai did it! You burn their villages! Destroy their farms! Steal their food! Force them to labour! Take their women! And kill them if they resist! So what should farmers do?


The Stanley Rubric:

Legacy: 9.5

Impact/Significance: 5

Novelty: 8.5

Classic-ness: 8.5

Rewatchability: 4.5

Audience Score: 9.5 (93% Google, 97% RT)

Total: 45.5


Remaining Questions:

  • What happens to Shino after this?

  • Where do Kambei, Shichirōji, and Katsushiro go?

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