I have never really understood why people avoid foreign films so often. I suppose and have heard people who said that they do not want to read when watching a film. I personally believe to ignore foreign films would be to ignore at the very least 70% of all of the great films being made around the world. This confusion with the anti-readers goes even further in the case of the films of Akira Kurosawa. His is a name thrown around often, like in that terrible 90′s jam, but not many people are aware of the sheer impact of this incredible storyteller. Almost every one of his films have been remade into American films and received accolade here in the states, especially in the western genre. To name a few of these films, Star Wars, A Fistful of Dollars, Last Man Standing, and The Magnificent Seven were all either spot on remakes of Kurosawa films or at least heavily influenced by him.
That being said, Seven Samurai, the film The Magnificent Seven is based off of, is perhaps one of Kurosawa’s best known films. It is the story of a small village that has come to the knowledge that bandits will be attacking them after their harvest to steal their food as they have done several times before. In trying to prevent this, they decide to hire Samurai to help them fight back when the time comes. A group of farmers head to the city and embark on finding a group of samurai willing to be paid in three square meals a day, since the villagers have no money to offer. The result is an eclectic group of seven samurai (Bet you didn’t see that coming). This group heads to the village to help them prepare to fight the bandits.
Kurosawa was known as a master of cinematic realism. Just as those directors who followed in his footsteps, such as George Lucas, Steven Spielberg, Francis Ford Coppola, and Martin Scorsese, Kurosawa used realism to draw his viewer in and truly experience what his characters were experiencing. In watching Seven Samurai, you are not just rooting for the villagers and the samurai to triumph, you feel as if you have been through this entire experience with them. The villagers are just blank characters, they are people you know and understand and like. This style of filmmaking makes it relatively easy to connect to a film set in medieval Japan, a setting that I personally know nothing about.
The fact that that Kurosawa has the ability to make one relate to characters that on the surface one has no familiarity or grounds on which to relate to, is impressive. He does this by pulling out basic human attributes of every one of his characters. Things like pride, honor, justice, love, vulnerability, and fear are aspects of the human condition that no one is exempt from. This makes watching Seven Samurai a blast while maintaining aspects of film that would make the most astute film student feel giddy as a schoolboy. The cinematography is ridiculously awesome, the story is perfectly told, and the dialogue, even being translated from Japanese to English, is engaging and spot on. It is well worth watching every second of this 3hr. 26 min. epic masterpiece.