Seven Samurai (1954)

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“It's impossible to imagine how the action genre would have developed without Akira Kurosawa's watershed 1954 movie Seven Samurai”

New York Daily News

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.

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 is was seen for many years (including its Australian debut at the Sydney Film Festival). 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 2016.

Supported by The Japan Foundation