Seven Samurai Parent Guide
Seven samurai are hired to protect a village from bandits.
Parent Movie Review
Since it released in 1954, Akira Kurosawa’s Seven Samurai has ranked as one of the industry’s greatest films on several critics’ lists, and maybe one of the longest at 207 minutes. In addition to three months of pre-production, the movie took over a year to shoot, went well over budget and was shut down at least twice by Toho Studios.
Yet in the end it has became one of Japan’s highest grossing films at the time and has since been adapted in movies like The Magnificent Seven (1960) and A Bug’s Life. In 2016 Sony Pictures will release an updated version of The Magnificent Seven starring Chris Pratt, Matt Bomer and Denzel Washington.
With a runtime of nearly four hours, this black and white Japanese production with English subtitles isn’t a quick watch. Compared to today’s non-stop action flicks, it also moves at a relatively slow pace in places as it fleshes out the characters and builds the audience’s emotional attachment to them. Several of the cast members might also be accused of overacting in North American terms. However this reflects the style of the Kabuki theater that depicts “over-the-top performance of characters based on broadly drawn archetypes or stereotypes,” according to Roger Ebert.
When it released, the film set a new standard in moviemaking. Among the plot elements it employs is the concept of mustering a band of heroes, often misfits or outsiders, to save the day. For the ensuing decades, that idea has been reflected even in current action movies like Furious 7, RED and Guardians of the Galaxy.
The story begins when bandits pillage a small town and threaten to return when the harvest is completed. Unable to fight off the outlaws, the poor farmers decide to hire someone to defend their crop. With little to offer in recompense, the village elder tells Manzo (Kamatari Fujiwara), Rikichi (Yoshio Tsychiya) and Yohei (Bokuzen Hidari) to find hungry samurai.
The three men finally stumble upon Kambei (Takashi Shimura), an aging ronin (samurai without a master) who they watch shave his head and pretend to be a monk in order to rescue a kidnapped child. Hoping this compassionate avenger will come to their rescue as well, the trio offers him rice in exchange for protection. When he finally agrees, Kambei goes about finding other warriors in need of a cause.
The samurais’ motivation for accepting the job varies between the half dozen men who join Kambei, yet all play a part in helping the townsfolk prepare for the inevitable attack by the bandits. Each man also represents variations of human nature and, in some cases, even different rankings in society. An understanding of the Japanese caste system and the society’s strict compliance to tradition will aid viewers in grasping the deeper details in these side stories.
Still, at the center of the tale is the aging Kambei. While he may not always have the vigor of the younger soldiers, he has wisdom and insight earned from years of experience. Willing to fight for the underdog, he not only understands the need for the samurai to act as protectors, but he also appreciates the cost that will come with the battle.Directed by Akira Kurosawa. Starring Toshirô Mifune, Takashi Shimura, Keiko Tsushima. Running time: 207 minutes. Theatrical release November 19, 2015. Updated July 17, 2017
Rating & Content Info
Why is Seven Samurai rated Not Rated? Seven Samurai is rated Not Rated by the MPAA
Violence: Bandits raid a town and threaten to return. Characters are hit with sticks, clubs and other items. A captured prisoner is beat to death off screen. A man kidnaps a child (the child’s crying can be heard). A character is killed with a sword. A character is told to go hang himself. A woman runs into a burning house to avoid her husband. The bandits burn some homes to the ground. Women also join the battle. Numerous characters are stabbed, slashed with swords and beaten. Few blood effects are shown. Frequent battles occur between the samurai, locals and bandits. Dead bodies are shown.
Sexual Content: One man offers his daughter to the bandits in exchange for the village’s safety. The villagers hide their women because they are worried the samurai will rape them. One young woman throws herself at a soldier but he refuses her. Later it is implied that the couple has had sex. Several characters are seen wearing a loincloth that exposes their bare buttocks. A man strips down to only his loincloth on a couple of occasions. Some crude sexual comments are made.
Language: The English subtitles include the infrequent use of some mild and moderate profanities.
Alcohol / Drug Use:Characters are shown drinking infrequently. One man is portrayed as drunk. Characters are offered sake before a battle. Some smoking is also included.
Page last updated July 17, 2017
More parents' guide for Seven Samurai after the break...
Seven Samurai Parents' Guide
Note:The original title of Seven Samurai was Shichinin no samurai
Kambei scolds one of the samurai telling him, “He who thinks only about himself will be destroyed.” Why is teamwork so important in their mission? How is this kind of teamwork reflected in more current movies based on a similar theme?
How does Kambei approach conflict differently than some of the younger samurai? What has his life experience taught him? Why are the rules for the samurai so strict? What has made the villagers wary of the samurai, even though they want their protection?
Why do the samurai accept Kikuchiyo (Toshiro Mifune) into their band even though he is often silly or mischievous? What value does he bring to the group? What skills, talents or traits do you have that would benefit others?
Learn more about the samurai, who were a military caste that held great power in the country.
The most recent home video release of Seven Samurai movie is October 19, 2010. Here are some details…Home Video Notes: Seven Samurai
Release Date: October 19, 2010
Seven Samurai releases to home video in a Criterion Collection (DVD or Blu-ray) with the following special features:
- Restored high-definition digital transfer
- Two audio commentaries: one by film scholars David Desser, Joan Mellen, Stephen Prince, Tony Rayns, and Donald Richie; the other by Japanese-film expert Michael Jeck
- A 50-minute documentary on the making of Seven Samurai, part of the Toho Masterworks series Akira Kurosawa: It Is Wonderful to Create
- My Life in Cinema, a two-hour video conversation between Akira Kurosawa and Nagisa Oshima produced by the Directors Guild of Japan
- Seven Samurai: Origins and Influences, a documentary looking at the samurai traditions and films that impacted Kurosawa's masterpiece
- Theatrical trailers and teaser
- Gallery of rare posters and behind-the scenes and production stills
- New and improved English subtitle translation
- A booklet featuring essays by Peter Cowie, Philip Kemp, Peggy Chiao, Alain Silver, Kenneth Turan, Stuart Galbraith, Arthur Penn, and Sidney Lumet and an interview with Toshiro Mifune.