THE SEVEN SAMURAI
Director: Akira Kurosawa
Screenplay: Akira Kurosawa, Shinobu Hashimoto, Hideo Oguni
Starring: Takashi Shimura, Toshiro Mifune, Isao Kimura, Yoshio Inaba
Running Time: 207mins
Format: Blu-ray Steelbook/DVD
Reviewed by Guy Adams
Consistently regarded as one of finest and most influential movies ever made, THE SEVEN SAMURAI has been released on Blu-ray in a Limited Edition Steelbook as well as re-mastered DVD by those fine folks at the BFI.
Quite how I’m supposed to objectively review the film itself is beyond me. Can we take it as read that it’s rather good?
For those that have recently discovered cinema, or indeed, their own eyes, THE SEVEN SAMURAI is the story of a poor Japanese village under threat from bandits. In a desperate bid to save themselves, they try and hire Samurai to protect them.
Kurosawa’s film is often described as an epic, but in a way that’s to miss its greatest strength. It may be a terribly long film — though it honestly never feels like it — but its scope is focused and intimate, filled with rich and engaging characters, all trapped within their societal roles. Unlike many modern action movies, it’s not about the man dying on the point of a sword, it’s about the man holding it. It’s funny, exciting, beautiful and sad and deserves every single dollop of the considerable appreciation poured on it over the years.
The BFI have given the film a brand new transfer and it’s a major improvement on their previous version. Japanese films have often suffered from poor treatment and archiving and it’s a shame to say that THE SEVEN SAMURAI is never going to look perfect. That accepted, while there are still occasional brief signs of print damage, its a pretty clean and sympathetic restoration that allows Kurosawa’s film to shine, particularly during the all-important, rain-flooded climax.
The disc allows you to watch the film with or without it’s original intermission (a safety net for those who are scared they won’t manage to sit through the whole thing in one sitting — but, trust me, you will). With the original Japanese trailer and The Art of Akira Kurosawa, a forty-nine minute feature from Asian cinema expert, Tony Raynes as extras. The package is polished off by one of the BFI’s always informative booklets, containing a handful of essays and the film’s original review from Sight and Sound.