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Kurosawa masterfully composed his shots to emphasize these group dynamics, and Seven Samurai is a textbook study of the director's signature techniques, including extensive use of telephoto lenses to compress action, delineate character relationships, and intensify motion. While the climactic battle against raiding thieves remains one of the most breathtaking sequences ever filmed, Seven Samurai is most triumphant as a peerless example of character development, requiring all of its 2-hour, 37-minute running time to illuminate every essential detail of villagers and samurai alike, including an abundance of humor as Kambei's defense plan unfolds. In terms of its overall impact, Seven Samurai spawned dozens of copycat films (notably the American Western remake The Magnificent Seven) and cannot be adequately summarized by even the most comprehensive synopsis; it must be seen to be fully appreciated, and the Criterion Collection's 2006 DVD reissue is an essential addition to any definitive home-video library. --Jeff Shannon
On the DVDs
According to the accompanying booklet, "the picture has been slightly window-boxed (in correct original 1.33:1 aspect ratio) to ensure that the maximum image is visible on all monitors." The two-disc format was necessary "to maintain optimal image quality throughout the compression process," with dual-layered DVD-9's encoded "at the highest possible bit rate for the quantity of material included." The picture and sound quality are simply amazing compared to Criterion's one-disc release from 1998. The all-new, fully restored high-definition digital transfer takes full advantage of HD's clarity and crispness, resulting in picture detail far surpassing the previous DVD. This also applies to the soundtrack, presented in optional Dolby surround in addition to the remastered original mono track. The new transfer "was mastered in 2k resolution from a duplicate negative created with wetgate processing from the original fine-grain master positive" (the film's original negative is no longer available), and "several different digital hardware and software solutions were utilized for flicker, instability, dirt, scratch, and grain management."
The complete 207-minute film is accompanied by two full-length commentary tracks, including a new track combining the critical insights of film scholars David Desser, Joan Mellen, Stephen Price (author of The Warrior's Camera: The Cinema of Akira Kurosawa), Tony Rayns, and the dean of Japanese film experts, Donald Richie (author of The Films of Akira Kurosawa). Each scholar is given approximately 40 minutes of film-time, and their commentaries represent a unique opportunity to appreciate Seven Samurai from distinct yet complem\ entary critical perspectives. The commentary by Japanese film expert Michael Jeck (from Criterion's original 1988 laserdisc release) The commentary by Japanese film expert Michael Jeck (from Criterion's original 1988 laserdisc release) remains useful as a thorough analysis of Seven Samurai, primarily in terms of visual composition.
The 50-minute "making of" documentary, from Japan's 2002 Toho Masterworks TV series Akira Kurosawa: It Is Wonderful to Create emphasizes Kurosawa's colla boration with co-screenwriters Shinobu Hashimoto and Hideo Oguni, including production footage, crewmember interviews, and a reverent visit to the rural inn where Seven Samurai was written over a six-week period of intense seclusion. The two-hour "My Life in Cinema" interview with Kurosawa was recorded in 1993, with fellow filmmaker Nagisa Oshima serving as a gentle admirer, colleague, and well-informed historian of Kurosawa's career. "Seven Samurai: Origins and Influences" is a richly informative documentary that places Kurosawa's classic in both historical and cinematic context, examining its place in the jidai-gecki (swordplay) genre, its accurate depiction of samurai codes and traditions, and its stature as the prototype for many films that followed. The lavishly illustra ted 58-page booklet includes eight brief essays on various aspects of Seven Samurai, each written by noted film scholars or film directors (including Arthur Penn and Sidney Lumet). Also included is a reminiscence by the great actor T oshiro Mifune, excerpted from a conversation recorded in 1993. Taken as a whole, the remastered three-disc Seven Samurai ranks as one of the finest DVD sets ever released. --Jeff Shannon
Stills from Seven Samurai - 3 Disc Remastered Edition (Click for larger image)
With clear homage to Howard Hawks and John Ford westerns, Kurosawa cinematically composes a Japanese epic. Read morePublished 3 days ago by E. J. Hillard
It's a masterpiece. What else can you say. Worth every penny. Every collection should have a copy.Published 12 days ago by William Samotie
I have watched this film more times that I can remember. It is truly a timeless classic one that has been imitadet by others. Read morePublished 14 days ago by ishgarcia
Only English subtitles but an awesome classic. Amazing character development and acting.Published 14 days ago by Pete S.
Even though it clocks in a three hours, you won't feel it passing. It's a great story about Samurai, honor, and the defense of those in need. Read morePublished 19 days ago by Jeffrey Pfeiffer
I have already written a review to this Samurai masterpiece of Akira Kurowsawa cinematography on Blu-Ray.Published 22 days ago by Robert Andrew Curry
After years of hype it was way to slow to hold my interest. I couldn't recommend even rental and purchase would be totally out of the question.Published 24 days ago by Papa Chuck
|Topic||From this Discussion|
|Should I wait for Blu-ray Edition?||
Criterion is reportedly putting all their efforts into the restoration and it's supposed to look astounding. They had planned it for Kurosawa's centennial (which just passed), but they couldn't make the deadline, and instead released Yojimbo & Sanjuro together on Blu-ray. All the Criterion... Read More
Mar 27, 2010 by J. Corbit | See all 4 posts
Whilst some of Mifune-san's memories are included in the booklet that comes with this version, the extras amount to an historical documentary about the Samurai and a huge sprawling interview with Kurosawa-sensei that benefits from being done by a fellow Director and fellow Japanese person in that... Read More
Aug 26, 2009 by Iain Howe | See all 3 posts
www.criterionco.com/ look for the 'about' link.
May 29, 2006 by J in Novato | See all 5 posts
|Any where I can find this cheaper?||
There are a handful of other versions out there, but this is the version I own and it is of very high quality. I don't think you would be disappointed.
May 11, 2009 by Bob Tyler | See all 3 posts
No, region A.
Jan 3, 2011 by Car | See all 2 posts
|Is there an English audio track?||Be the first to reply|