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Before watching this movie I was afraid it's length would bore me… Still, after watching it I discovered I wouldn't take a single second; Kurosawa truly shows it's maestry taking his time in developing each character in a very subtle way, showing throughout the movie their unique personalities and acomplishing something very rare in foreign movies (specially Asian, since it is more difficult to quickly identify faces), which is recognizing, understanding and developing a bond with each one of the Seven Samurais (probably the choice of devoting a hole hour to the search of the Samurais is key in reaching this). I disagree with a comment below which says the last hour dedicated to the battle is excessive, as I felt it was vital in explaining how this "precarious" group managed to achieve that result, as it was focused a lot on strategy, and I do wonder if hollywood has numbed us into just assuming impossible battles will be won anyway, taking all the thrill out of them. Still it was the reflection done by Kambei Shimada in the final scene which, in my opinion, made this movie a great unforgettable classic! I take my hat off for Master Kurosawa!
I don't think I've ever felt so good checking that little box in the right top corner than now, for this perfection of a film that is Seven Samurai.
Andrei Tarkovsky discussing Akira Kurosawa & "Seven Samurai" - "The main thing is his modern characters, modern problems, and the modern method of studying life. That's self-evident. He never set himself the task of copying the life of samurai of a certain historical period. One perceives his Middle Ages without any exoticism. He is such a profound artist, he shows such psychological connections, such a development of characters and plot-lines, such a vision of the world, that his narrative about the Middle Ages constantly makes you think about today's world. You feel that you somehow already know all of this. It's the principle of recognition. That's the greatest quality of art according to Aristotle. When you recognize something personal in the work, something sacred, you experience joy. Kurosawa is also interesting for his social analysis of history. If you compare The Seven Samurai and The Magnificent Seven, which share the same plot, it is especially visible. Kurosawa's historicism is based on characters. Moreover these are not conventional characters, but ones which issue from the circumstances of the protagonists' life. Each samurai has his own individual fate, although each possesses nothing except the ability to use a sword; and, not wanting to do anything else because of his pride, each finds himself serving peasants to defend them from the enemy. There is a text of pure genius at the end of the film, remember, over the grave, when they plant rice: samurai come and go, but the nation remains. That's the idea. They are like the wind, blown this way and that. Only the peasants remain on the earth."
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Currently in 33 official lists, but has been in 35