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The Seven Samurai
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Length:141 min
Cast:Takashi Shimura, Toshiro Mifune, Yoshio Inaba, Seiji Miyaguchi
Credits:Directed by: Akira Kurosawa
Toho Films
Awards:Venice Film Festival
Akira Kurosawa - Silver Lion

Director Akira Kurosawa's 1954 masterwork simultaneously works as an action-packed "western," an engrossing character study of individuals in crisis, and a profound examination of the social ties that bind people within communities. The basic story is simple: A beleaguered village decides to face down marauding brigands by hiring the titular mercenaries. These seven men (or The Magnificent Seven, as the hit American remake dubbed them) unite the villagers and fend off the bandits. One of Kurosawa's greatest achievements here is the way he imbues the film's many characters with such distinctive personalities that we come to care deeply for them. Among a slew of memorable performances, both Takashi Shimura as the sage samurai leader and Toshiro Mifune as the uncouth warrior who evolves into a hero, are particularly affecting. The celebrated climactic battle in the rain is a thrilling set piece that has rarely been equaled, thanks to Kurosawa's unique brilliance for conveying motion onscreen. The Seven Samurai stands as a superbly human epic and a glorious celebration of the cinematic experience. Steve Futterman

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