Akira Kurosawa
essential films
SANSHIRO SUGATA
DRUNKEN ANGEL
IKIRU
SEVEN SAMURAI
YOJIMBO
RED BEARD
RAN
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An illicit rendezvous between Shino (Keiko Tsushima), the farmer's daughter, and Katsushiro (Ko Kimura), the young samurai disciple, from SEVEN SAMURAI.
SEVEN SAMURAI . Shichinin no Samurai .  1954

One of the all-time great film entertainments, this is a rousing story of 16th-century Japan and of seven extraordinary warriors who battle their own class in order to defend a beleaguered village of farmers. This has become one of the most influential films ever made, producing numerous official (THE MAGNIFICENT SEVEN) and unofficial remakes (BATTLE BEYOND THE STARS and A BUG'S LIFE).

Kurosawa gives us an epic story (the film is 208 minutes long) told with superb skill, and a richly detailed historical setting. The 16th-century civil wars -- the Sengoku Jidai -- became his favored setting for period films, appearing again in THE HIDDEN FORTRESS, THRONE OF BLOOD, and RAN. In this turbulent era of social disintegration, Kurosawa found a parallel with Japan's collapse in the postwar period.

Along with the character of Kanji Watanabe (IKIRU), Kambei Shimada, the leader of the seven samurai, is the quintessential Kurosawa hero, and the defense of a village, like the construction of a park, furnishes the essential measure of heroism. Takashi Shimura plays both of these heroes, and his physical transformation from clerk to warrior is one of cinema's most impressive displays of acting prowess. Toshiro Mifune is Kikuchiyo, the would-be samurai who was born a lowly farmer.

This is the adventure film as it should be, at its highest and noblest expression, and one of the greatest examples of popular storytelling in cinema.

-- Stephen Prince
"SEVEN SAMURAI is about the relationship between the samurai and the villagers. And I wanted to show each samurai as an individual."
Akira Kurosawa
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From KUROSAWA.
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