If there’s one thing worse than a bad movie, it’s a long bad movie.

Even if the movie is just mediocre, a run time of two and a half hours or more can turn a meh film into a cruel form of torture. Because of this, it can be quite difficult to make a good long movie, and this tends to scare people away from watching such films.

But when a long movie is good, it usually ends up being one of the greatest movies of all time, and one of these great movies is Akira Kurosawa’s “Seven Samurai”.

“Seven Samurai” is a 1954 Japanese film about a small poor village of farmers that is raided year after year by bandits. So the village elder tells some of the men to go hire samurai in order to protect the village. However, when they get to the city and try to hire some, they are met with rejection and slander as no samurai wants to fight for lowly farmers and be paid only in rice.

Eventually though they find a noble old samurai named Shimada, who skillfully resolved a hostage situation. The farmers manage to convince the old samurai, as well as his young disciple, Okamoto, to help them. So the old samurai tries to help them find seven samurai in total, but only manages to find four others. There’s the always positive Katayama, the samurai who’s better at cutting wood than men Hayashida, an old friend of Shimada’s named Shichiroji, and the calm, cool, and deadly Kyuzo.

With little time to waste, the six of them decide they’ll have to do, however, on their way back, they notice they’re being followed by a mysterious and crazy man who claims to be a samurai, and tried to convince them of this earlier by showing them a family tree scroll he had stolen, and telling them he is Kikuchiyo (who according to the scroll is only 13-years old) but they end up letting him join.

When they reach the village they find the farmers are all terrified of the samurai. It takes some of Kikuchiyo’s antics, but they manage to finally meet the rest of the farmers and begin making plans for defense as well as training the farmers. There is quite a bit of drama between the samurai and the farmers, but when the bandits begin their assault it all kicks off and leads to an intense battle between the bandits and the samurai and their farmer army.

“Seven Samurai” has a run time of a whopping 207 minutes, three hours and forty-five minutes! So the pacing is key, and this film is paced almost perfectly, and not a single scene feels wasted or unneeded.

The film can be split into three sections, three acts if you will.

The first is the farmers searching for the samurai, the second is the samurai preparing the village for war, and the third is the battle itself. Not one part feels larger than the other, they’re all perfectly balanced. I can not think of a more beautifully paced film than this, and it’s all the more impressive that such a long film accomplishes this.

While most of the action is saved for the final act, the first two are still very entertaining.

Just like any other great film, the characters are the backbone of the film. Each of the samurai are distinct and memorable, though the standouts are Shimada, Okamoto, Kyuzo, and of course Kikuchiyo.

Now since there are so many farmers, only a few get much development. There’s Manzo, who doesn’t want his daughter ending up with a samurai, the cowardly and sad Yohei, and then Rikichi whose wife was taken by the bandits in the last raid. Each of these characters, along with the old man, get their own little subplots that tie in perfectly with the rest of the film.

Even though only a few of the farmers play an important role, the farmers as a whole can almost be seen as one big character, desperate, depressed, and scared, but with the help of the samurai are brought up and prepared for war.

This is all pretty serious stuff, but one thing the director, Akira Kurosawa, is a master at is injecting small amounts of humor that don’t detract from the rest of the film.

All too often these days, movies will have crappy jokes that are usually unfunny, childish, and take away from the seriousness of the film.

But “Seven Samurai” does it perfectly. Kikuchiyo is the film’s comic relief. Sometimes he’s making the joke, other times he’s the butt end of the joke, it makes him a fun character to watch and it helps that his acting (along with the acting of all the other characters) is fantastic, but he’s got a tragic backstory that helps to add more to his character so he’s not just the funny guy.

So, the well written, well acted characters, along with the interesting and engaging story, help to keep the film enjoyable before much action, aside from a few quick action scenes, happens.

When the action does start, it doesn’t let up. The battles feel very real, watching the bandits ride in on horses and seeing the samurai put an actual plan into place is awesome. When people fall to the ground, they don’t epicly get up and counter, they scramble for their lives through the mud before a band of farmers prod them to death with spears.

The final battle is long and grueling, but very exciting. The fights (and pretty much the entire film) are shot beautifully, and the engaging characters help to make the viewer care about each moment.

The whole film comes together with the characters, the story, the action, the cinematography, the music, it all comes together to create one of the greatest films of all time. If you’ve got more than three hours to kill, preferably on a nice rainy day, definitely check out “Seven Samurai”. I give this film 10 samurai butts out of 10.

Connor Keating is a Halstead sophomore in general studies.

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