At number 16 of top 1000 films of all time, we have this 1954 Japanese adventure film.
Set in 1586 during the warring states period of Japan, it focuses on a small mountain village who are terrorised by local bandits. The villagers then enlist the help of seven samurai to wipe out the bandits.
knew very little about the Warring State Period of Japan, so I can’t comment on the historical accuracy of the film’s emotional poignancy. Within the group of Samurai and the village itself, there is a very strong sense of collectivism, love and loyalty. The seven samurai are essentially a band of brothers who are united by their bands of brotherhood. In their ongoing battles with the Bandits, they lose four of their number and each loss is excruciatingly painful for them and for the audience too.
The same goes for the villagers who are visibly distraught at seeing the bandits burning down their homes and killing their people. In two separate and very powerful scenes, the film portrays the true horrors of war. The first sees a mother whom despite having a fatal spear wound manages to escape from her burning home in order to get her child to safety in an incredible strength of willpower. The second sees one of the villager’s wives after being beaten and raped and left in her burning home by the Bandits, chooses to stay in her burning home rather than living in the shame of being raped. These two scenes were such a credit to the film, as they showed the true horrors of war.
As this film was made in the 50’s, it is of course terribly unfair to criticise it for its production element. No. My main trifle with the film was its extreme length. At 3 and a half hours it is at least the longest film I have reviewed, let alone seen. As it was so long, I watched it in two halves with an eleven hour gap in between. However, this meant that I did have trouble remembering and placing what had happened before. Further, I was also getting very bored and restless by the film’s end.
Whilst this film does engage well with sensitive topics, its extreme length was definitely a drawback for me.