On a friday afternoon, with the weekend already tugging at my work life, I decided to break the lethargy by heading to the Queens’ library at the basement of the my fifty storied office, in downtown New York. Having decided to watch a foreign language movie, I zeroed in on ʻSeven Samuraiʼ – one of the most celebrated works of Akiro Kurosawa and arguably his magnum opus.
Seven Samurai is a masterpiece in every sense of the word. A village, ravaged by marauding thugs, is awaiting their next plunder, after the harvest. The villagers decide to hire Samurai to safeguard their crops and citizenry and ward off the bandits. In return, the masterless Samurai would be provided food. A battle-hardened Samurai, Kambei, is the first to accede to the villagersʼ request. How he recruits other Samurai and how they go about fighting the bandits form the plot of this enthralling three hour twenty seven minutes movie.
Seven Samurai wonderfully depicts the feudal nature of the Japanese society and the friction among the warrior and farmer classes. The tension is visible when a few Samurai react with anger when they realize how badly the villagers had taken advantage of fleeing warriors in the past. With a long running time, Kurosawa is able to flesh out the key characters effectively. Seven Samurai is also a visual treat. The movie is heavy on metaphors. The symbolism of ʻSevenʼ, the use of the elements of nature (a Kurosawa speciality) add to the allure of storytelling. One of the trademarks of a great movie is, apart from the usual trendsetting aspects of filmmaking, one can extract scores of little nuggets that one can so happily tug at. ʻSeven Samuraiʻ is no exception, spawning an entire range of movies based on its mode of storytelling.
Great screenplay, wonderful acting, haunting cinematography backed by some good music make this a must-watch for anybody reasonably interested in watching good cinema.