By Dennis Hartley
(Originally posted on Digby’s Hullabaloo on December 11, 2010)
The Seven Samurai – Criterion Collection Blu-ray
“The greatest film ever made” may be one of the most overused hyperbolic superlatives in film criticism-but Akira Kurosawa’s 1954 masterpiece comes pretty damn close. Set in the 16th century, during Japan’s feudal period, it’s an elemental tale about farmers who have reached the end of their rope with marauding bandits, who swoop into their valley like clockwork for an annual raid on the food stores that they toil for all season to grow and harvest.
Although they can offer little more than some meager bags of rice as payment, they manage to convince a down-on-his-luck yet forthright samurai to take care of their “problem” once and for all. He recruits six fellow out-of-work warriors and sets to work. The story may be simple, but there can be much beauty in simplicity, especially in the hands of a craftsman like Kurosawa-san.
This is literally a movie with something for everyone-adventure, action, comedy, drama, romance, and perhaps most importantly, genuine heart and soul. This one movie has inspired and influenced the work of so many other filmmakers that it boggles the mind.
Criterion’s 2010 Blu-ray set carries over the same beautifully restored print and the extras from their 2006 reissue set, plus new features. And…the film has never looked this good!