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Seven Samurai [DVD] [1954]

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Product details

  • Actors: Toshirô Mifune, Takashi Shimura, Keiko Tsushima, Yukiko Shimazaki, Kamatari Fujiwara
  • Directors: Akira Kurosawa
  • Format: PAL, Black & White, Full Screen
  • Language: Japanese
  • Subtitles: English
  • Region: Region 2 (This DVD may not be viewable outside Europe. Read more about DVD formats.)
  • Aspect Ratio: 4:3 - 1.33:1
  • Number of discs: 1
  • Classification: PG
  • Studio: Bfi
  • DVD Release Date: 22 Nov. 1999
  • Run Time: 190 minutes
  • Average Customer Review: 4.8 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (140 customer reviews)
  • ASIN: B00004D04C
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 8,263 in DVD & Blu-ray (See Top 100 in DVD & Blu-ray)


Product Description

A film Akira Kurosawa

In sixteenth-century Japan a poor village is raided every year by a group of bandits until, driven to the brink of starvation, the villagers decide to hire professional warriors to protect them. With only three meagre meals a day to offer as payment, their quest seems an impossible one.

A simple plot, flawlessly executed - Seven Samurai combines comedy, pathos, memorable characters, gripping tension and some of the finest action scenes ever filmed into an enthralling cinematic experience.

Kurosawa's masterpiece testifies to his admiration for the classic Western, and in 1960 John Sturges repaid the compliment by remaking Seven Samurai as The Magnificent Seven.

At 190 minutes this is the most complete version of the film available, and has been digitally remastered from a new print.

The DVD features moving menus, chapter selection, on-screen biographies and a video essay by film historian Philip Kemp.

Japan | 1954 | black & white | Japanese language with English subtitles | 190 minutes | Ratio 1.33:1

Region 2 DVD


Unanimously hailed as one of the greatest masterpieces in the history of the motion picture, Seven Samurai has inspired countless films modelled after its basic premise. But Akira Kurosawa's classic 1954 action drama has never been surpassed in terms of sheer power of emotion, kinetic energy, and dynamic character development. The story is set in the 1600s, when the residents of a small Japanese village are seeking protection against repeated attacks by a band of marauding thieves. Offering mere handfuls of rice as payment, they hire seven unemployed "ronin" (masterless samurai), including a boastful swordsman (Toshiro Mifune) who is actually a farmer's son desperately seeking glory and acceptance. The samurai get acquainted with but remain distant from the villagers, knowing that their assignment may prove to be fatal. The climactic battle with the raiding thieves remains one of the most breathtaking sequences ever filmed. It's poetry in hyperactive motion and one of Kurosawa's crowning cinematic achievements. This is not a film that can be well served by any synopsis; it must be seen to be appreciated and belongs on the short list of any definitive home-video library. --Jeff Shannon --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

Customer Reviews

4.8 out of 5 stars

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

88 of 91 people found the following review helpful By Gary F. Taylor on 3 Mar. 2004
Format: DVD
Clocking in at just under four hours with not a scrap of filler, Kurosawa's THE SEVEN SAMURAI is every bit as legendary at its enthusiasts would have you believe.
The basic story is extremely simple. In a period of social chaos, a small farming village learns it will once more be attacked by a band of thirty bandits after the harvest. At first the farmers despair, but village elder Gisaku (Kokuten Kodo) recalls that in his childhood a similar village met a similar situation by hiring Samurai to defend them. The villagers accordingly send representatives to the city, where they are able to convince Samurai Kambei Shimada (Takashi Shimura) to undertake the defense.
If the plot sounds familiar, it should: Hollywood would translate it into the extremely popular 1960 western THE MAGNIFICENT SEVEN--but fine though that film is, it pales beside THE SEVEN SAMURAI, which effectively turns an action film premise into a character study of the first order and endows the story with both tremendous simplicity and artistry. Much of this is due an extraordinary ensemble cast, which includes the celebrated Toshiro Mifune (who would later appear in Kurosawa's THRONE OF BLOOD and YOJIMBO); above this, however, is Kurosawa's remarkable vision that draws upon the visual motif of the circle.
The circle is a powerful presence in SAMURAI. The village is presented as a roughly circular pattern of houses; the farmers meet in circles; in due time the Samurai enter the circle and stand at the center of the circle, directing the defense--and indeed the circle will become the defense, as Shimada works to find means to draw the bandits into the circle and to their doom.
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44 of 46 people found the following review helpful By Amazon Customer TOP 500 REVIEWERVINE VOICE on 25 Oct. 2006
Format: DVD Verified Purchase
This is one of a small handful of films that transcend the label 'classic' and are essential.

Seven samurais influences are many and varied like so much else that Kurosawa directed. A seemingly simple tale of a roaming band of masterless samurai find fulfilment and destiny when they agree to protect a defenceless village that is being raided by a ruthless band of marauders.

Kurosawa pulled out all the stops as the action builds to a monumental and iconic final showdown fought in pouring rain.

Criterion have already released this earier in their catalogue. It contained the best available print of the film and a fine commentary by film expert Michael Jeck.

That commentary is included once again here, ( a wise move as it's a good one), along with an all new commentary by a group of film historians.Along with the commentaies there are 2 documentaries looking at the making of the film and it's influences that include much input from all involved and together last about 90 minutes.

The sound is still mono but coherent and lively. The print however has been mastered again and is superb, black and white this may be but it looks far better than a 52 year old film has any right to.

You get an awful lot for your money over the 3 discs but there is one inclusion that towers above all else here and that is the brilliant interview 'my life in cinema' where Kurosawa talks to interviewer Nagisa Oshima,(a filmaker himself), about his life and the films he has made. This allows the viewer to audience what is simply the best and most fact packed conversation with the great director available. The 2 hours running time is over before you know it.
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17 of 18 people found the following review helpful By MF Castillo on 15 Sept. 2006
Format: DVD
A village constantly terrorised by bandits enlist the aid of Samurais to help them defend their homes.

Not only is this a tale about honour and heroism, but it is a tale of social divide between Samurai (a status of upmost importance and somewhat royalty) and peasant (base class of Japan). We need to be told that what ever family you were born into, that is the profession you would take upon adulthood. So if you were born to a farmer, it would a farmer's life for you. Born into nobility of a Samurai, than a Samurai you would be.

The relationship betweenthe Samurais hired and the peasants I believe is the focal point of the story. From the peasants absolute gratitude for Samurais who would help them for a pittance to gradual resentment of the Samurai presence in the village.

Despite the age of the film, it is arguably one of the best action films ever made.

Shot in Black & White (come on it was 1954 afterall) and in Japanese (with English subtiles), it doesn't diminish the superiority of the film's story, characters and setting.

The superiority of the film is emphasised even more when it was made into the multibox office hit western "The Magnificent Seven" (although in my eyes "Seven Samurai" is still head and shoulders above this remake).

Kurosawa's work are timely classics. From "Hidden Fortress" to later films like "Kagemusha", Kurosawa's depiction of this almost forgotten world are ones to behold.

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6 of 6 people found the following review helpful By Ralf Bader on 6 May 2014
Format: Blu-ray Verified Purchase
the good news:
- it's a very beautiful disc-case
- booklet, 12 pages
- Tony Rayns on AK, 49 mins
- you can play the film with the original intermission
- thanks to BR/24fps it's the "full" length of ca. 207 mins

the not so good news:
- the transfer doesn't seem to be art-of-state (the restoration was made by Toho, the BFI only "further" restored it)
it doesn't look nor sound great, rather good DVD-standard
- the subtitles are ok, but there are still many things just not translated, so I wonder how good the existing subtitles really are
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