The Mighty Warriors Who Became the Seven National Heroes of a Small TownPlot:
A samurai answers a village's request for protection after he falls on hard times. The town needs protection from bandits, so the samurai gathers six others to help him teach the people how to defend themselves, and the villagers provide the soldiers with food. A giant battle occurs when 40 bandits attack the village.
Cast & Crew
Fun Facts of Movie
- This film is often described as the greatest Japanese film ever made, including by well-known Japanese film historian Donald Richie and by “Entertainment Weekly”, in its list of The 100 Greatest Films of All Time.
Akira Kurosawa‘s ancestors were samurai, roughly up to 100 years before he made this film.
Akira Kurosawa‘s original idea for the film was to make it about a day in the life of a samurai, beginning with him rising from bed, eat breakfast, go to his master’s castle and ending with him making some mistake that required him to go home and kill himself to save face. Despite a good deal of research, he did not feel he had enough solid factual information to make the movie. He then pitched the idea of a film that would cover a series of five samurai battles, based on the lives of famous Japanese swordsmen. Hashimoto went off to write that script, but Kurosawa ultimately scrapped that idea as well, worrying that a film that was just “a series of climaxes” wouldn’t work. Then, producer Sôjirô Motoki found, through historical research, that samurai in the “Warring States” period of Japanese history would often volunteer to stand guard at peasant villages overnight in exchange for food and lodging. Kurosawa then came across an anecdote about a village hiring samurai to protect them and decided to use that idea. Kurosawa wrote a complete dossier for each character with a speaking role. In it were details about what they wore, their favourite foods, their past history, their speaking habits, their reaction to battle and every other detail he could think of about them. No other Japanese director had ever done this before.
Akira Kurosawa designed a registry of all 101 residents of the village, creating a family tree to help his extras build their characters and relationships to each other.
Often credited as the first modern action movie. Many now commonly used cinematographic and plot elements–such as slow motion for dramatic flair and the reluctant hero to name a couple–are seen for perhaps the first time. Other movies may have used them separately before, but Akira Kurosawa brought them all together.
Not only was this Toshirô Mifune‘s favorite of his own films, but he named Kikuchiyo as his favorite role, because he was able to “be himself.”
This was the first film on which Akira Kurosawa used multiple cameras, so he wouldn’t interrupt the flow of the scenes and could edit the film as he pleased in post-production. He used the multiple-camera set-up on every subsequent film.
Akira Kurosawa refused to shoot the peasant village at Toho Studios and had a complete set constructed at Tagata on the Izu Peninsula, Shizuoka. Although the studio protested the increased production costs, Kurosawa was adamant that “the quality of the set influences the quality of the actors’ performances . . . For this reason, I have the sets made exactly like the real thing. It restricts the shooting but encourages that feeling of authenticity”.
As the production process grew longer and longer, producers grew worried that Akira Kurosawa was spending too much on the film. As a result, production was closed down “at least twice.” Instead of arguing, Kurosawa simply left to go fishing, believing that the studio had already invested so much money into the film that they wouldn’t simply scrap it. He was right.
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