Seven Samurai (1954)

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Akira Kurosawa directs Toshirô Mifune, Takashi Shimura and Keiko Tsushima in this samurai epic about a destitute village under threat from bandits who hire seven warriors to defend them. 

I watched a YouTube visual essay called Every Frame a Painting about Kurosawa’s use of movement earlier this year. Just the additional knowledge of how he uses motion in the foreground and background and pivots characters in shifting dynamics opened this film up massively to me. Supreme artistry aside, it is a magical adventure full of cool moments and true moments. A lot more entrepreneurial in its playfulness when assembling the team in the first half (the final battles prove a tad drawn out from an action perspective). Mifune’s wildman wannabe is a marvel of improvised erraticness. He makes a good counterbalance to Takashi Shimura worldly wise leader. Both are proper distinctive cinema stars who act as accelerants to the rest of a firey ensemble. This is rich epic, still well worth investing a day into. Although I do personally prefer the colourful and shorter charms of The  Magnificent Seven… if you forced me to choose.

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