The Seven Samurai

From my drafts – written sometime in October…
This movie was in my to-watch list for quite some time. Not because it is supposed to be a classic (which it oh-so-magnificently is), but because a friend, whose movie taste matches mine, had suggested it. We finally watched it this weekend, and loved every minute of it.

The movie is four hours long. That’s quite long. But this was probably the only movie during which I did not check my laptop, look the movie up on Wikipedia or make a million rounds to the kitchen to scavenge between-movie snacks. I was glued to the screen the whole time.

The plot is something that has now been beaten to death in movies. Poor villagers need protection from bandits, so they hire a team of seven warriors, who protect the village and empower the villagers to fight against injustice. Same as The Magnificent Seven (which I haven’t seen), Sholay and China Gate. Nothing new there.

What struck me was the simplicity of the movie and the amazing characters in the plot. The oppression of the villagers is portrayed forthrightly, without tear jerking emotional drama. I think that a subtle portrayal of sorrow and pain affects the audience more intensely than loud screaming or emotion-filled dialog. E.g. in Sholay, the grief and sorrow that was so powerfully expressed by Jaya Bhaduri’s silence, was lost with the blind old man lamenting his son’s death. In this movie you understand the oppression of the villagers when the bandits say “We just took their rice, they don’t have anything to give. Let’s come back when the barley is ripe”. You see their poverty when the villager picks up few grains of rice spilled on the floor, hoping it will make him a meal. You see their anger and their fear in their eyes, not in their dialog. They do not make big speeches about how they want to fight the bandits. They just pick up spears, too heavy for their scrawny and malnourished bodies, and get ready to fight. Simple and powerful.

Overall, a complete must-watch. Thanks R for recommending it!

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