Akira KurosawaJapan207 minutes1954B&WJapanese
Akira Kurosawa's tumultuous tale of seven masterless warriors hired by peasants to defend their village from pillaging bandits in 16th-century Japan must be seen on the big screen for its exhilarating visual and narrative power to be fully appreciated. Kurosawa achieves epic grandeur with a stately sense of structure (the film is divided into three parts), rich historical detail, Shakespearean sequences of low comedy and barbaric violence, and roiling narrative force. The battles are choreographed as surging spectacle (particularly the final rout in the rice fields in slashing rain), with Kurosawa using an arsenal of visual effects (slow motion, wild tracking shots, abrupt close-ups, telephoto shooting) to all but thrust the audience into the mud, crush, and struggle. Even so, the director's dense, muscular compositions can hardly contain the volatile performance of Toshiro Mifune (more like Toshiro Typhoon!), whose scenery-chewing in the early sequences imperils the surrounding rice paddies more than it does the marauders. "The finest Japanese film ever made" (Donald Richie).
Please note that this screening will include a 10-minute intermission.