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Seven Samurai (The Criterion Collection) (1954)

Toshirô Mifune , Takashi Shimura , Akira Kurosawa  |  Unrated |  DVD
4.7 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (679 customer reviews)

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Product Details

  • Actors: Toshirô Mifune, Takashi Shimura, Seiji Miyaguchi, Minoru Chiaki, Daisuke Katô
  • Directors: Akira Kurosawa
  • Format: Box set, Full Screen, NTSC, Subtitled
  • Language: Japanese (Dolby Digital 1.0), Japanese (Dolby Digital 2.1)
  • Subtitles: English
  • Region: Region 1 (U.S. and Canada only. Read more about DVD formats.)
  • Aspect Ratio: 1.33:1
  • Number of discs: 3
  • Rated: Unrated
  • Studio: Criterion
  • DVD Release Date: September 5, 2006
  • Run Time: 207 minutes
  • Average Customer Review: 4.7 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (679 customer reviews)
  • ASIN: B000G8NXYG
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #23,332 in Movies & TV (See Top 100 in Movies & TV)
  • Learn more about "Seven Samurai (The Criterion Collection)" on IMDb

Special Features

  • All-new, 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 new documentary lookimg 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  

Editorial Reviews

Amazon.com

Hailed as the greatest film in the history of Japanese cinema, Seven Samurai is director Akira Kurosawa's undisputed masterpiece. Arguably the greatest of all jidai-gecki (or historical swordplay films), Kurosawa's classic 1954 action drama has never been surpassed in terms of sheer power of emotion, kinetic energy, and dynamic character development. The story is set during the civil unrest of 16th-century Japan, as the cowering residents of a small farming village are seeking protection against seasonal attacks by a band of marauding bandits. Offering mere handfuls of rice as payment, they hire seven unemployed "ronin" (masterless samurai), including a boastful swordsman (Toshiro Mifune) who is actually a peasant farmer's son, desperately seeking glory, acceptance, and revenge against those who destroyed his family. Led by the calmly strategic Kambei (Takashi Shimura, star of Kurosawa's previous classic, Ikiru), the samurai form mutual bonds of honor and respect, but remain distant from the villagers, knowing that their assignment may prove to be fatal.

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)


Product Description

One of the most beloved movie epics of all time, Akira Kurosawa's Seven Samurai (Shichinin no samurai) tells the story of a sixteenth-century village whose desperate inhabits hire the eponymous warriors to protect them from invading bandits. This three-hour ride - featuring legendary actors Toshiro Mifune and Takashi Shimura - seamlessly weaves philosophy and entertainment, delicate human emotions and relentless action into a rich, evocative, and unforgettable tale of courage and hope. This newly-remastered 3 DVD special edition set is loaded with bonus features.

Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews
474 of 489 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Thinking about upgrading? September 13, 2006
Format:DVD
As a huge fan of older films and music, I am very aware of the many attempts of studios and record companies to reissue and re-market a previously released product in a new and improved format. While many of these reissues are often superior to their previously released counterparts, I have never been one to buy into the "upgrades". I feel that you don't need to have the best sound, the crispest picture, or the excess of supplemental materials in order to enjoy a film and have it affect you. In all my years collecting music CD's (particularly jazz) and DVDs, I think I've upgraded no more than three items from my collections.

I had been hearing for a while now about a new version of Seven Samurai coming out on Criterion that was supposed to have a brand new transfer from a recently discovered source that was to be greatly improved from any other previous edition. Being one of the most beloved films of all time (and one of mine as well), this has been creating alot of excitement in the world of film lovers. Being perfectly satisfied with my version of the Seven Samurai DVD from 1998, I had no plans to upgrade, but a side by side comparison on an internet site peaked my curiosity. And yesterday, being at a local retailer, I saw it on the shelf and decided to spring for it.

Let me tell you....if ANY of you are on the fence about this one, particularly those of you who are big fans of this amazing film, I advise you to go for it. The difference between this edition and the previous edition is so drastic that I could not believe my eyes and ears. I have never had this experience with a DVD before, but the improvements in picture and sound quality are SO great that I actually felt like I was watching Seven Samurai for the first time.
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384 of 408 people found the following review helpful
By A Customer
Format:DVD
Lest anyone be dissuaded from purchasing this masterpiece because they believe it is not presented in its original aspect ratio, it should be known that THE 1:33:1 ASPECT RATIO ON THIS DVD IS CORRECT. Akira Kurosawa did not begin working with the widescreen format until later in the 1950s. Anyone who asserts otherwise is mistaken.
This is a true 5 star films that ANYONE will enjoy. It's particulary recommended to those who would never dream of watching a movie with subtitles. Anyone looking for a great action movie should take a chance on this. Unlike that copy of Armageddon you watched once and is now collecting dust on your shelf, this is something you'll watch again and again. For those who love John Ford-type westerns, The Seven Samurai puts a marvelous spin on that classic genre. Even if you don't like action movies, you'll respond to this movie. It offers genuine human drama with an insight into a different culture and time that becomes increasingly fascinating with repeated viewings.
Of course, it's also recommended to those who already know and love this film. The picture on this DVD is much sharper and crisper than the one you're used to seeing on that worn-out VHS tape. As a bonus, it has a very insightful secondary audio track with commentary from a Japanese film historian that will help you develop a new appreciation for one of your old favorites.
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306 of 327 people found the following review helpful
Format:DVD
Akira Kurosawa made "Seven Samurai" because he wanted to make a real "jidai-geki," a real period-film that would present the past as meaningful, while also being an entertaining film. Kurosawa considered "Rashomon," the film rightfully credited with making the West aware of the Japanese cinema, with being neither. But in his attempt to make a truly "realistic" film, Kurosawa redefined the conflict at the heart of Japanese films. Before "Seven Samurai" this conflict was that of love versus duty, where the central character is compelled by fate to sacrifice what he loves in the name of duty. In "Seven Samurai" the focus remains on duty, yet the conflict is now between the real and the pretended. Calling yourself a samurai does not make you one, something proven time and time again in the film, from the test of skill turned deadly between Kyuzo (Seiji Miyaguchi) and the tall samurai to the first appearance of Kikuchiyo (Toshirô Mifune), with his stolen pedigree. Like Katshushiro (Ko Kimura), the youngster who wants to learn from the master, Kambei (Takashi Shimura), the audience is educated as to the true nature of the samurai.

For me this film deals with the heroic, albeit in realistic terms. I have shown the film in World Literature classes, after students have read Homer's "Iliad" and as they begin reading Cervantes' "Don Quixote." Within that context, compared to the brutal arrogance of Achilles and the gentle insanity of Quixote, the heroic qualities of the seven samurai become clear. Their inspiration extends to some of the villagers.
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57 of 59 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A breath taking masterpiece of Japanese film making.... October 31, 2000
Format:DVD
After many years of only seeing this timeless work on VHS tape, to finally have and to own " The Seven Samurai " on DVD presented in 1:33:1 format, presented by the reknowned Criterion Collection...it is indeed a true pleasure for this film fan. Plus the bonus of the additional audio commentary by the Japanese film historian, Michael Jeck, provides a much deeper insight into the history of the production, it's messages and themes, Akira Kurosawa's directorial style, and the attitudes of Japanese film making in the early 1950's.
From the very first time I watched this film I was spellbound by it's power and glory....Kurosawa painstakingly assembled a team of actors with wonderful synergy and expression that are at the core of this unforgettable tale of hopes & dreams, death & revenge and honor & trust. Kurosawa's explosive and dynamic battle sequences, some filmed in driving rain, are equally balanced within the films context by the sadness and emotion of the heartfelt scenes, such as where Kikuchiyo (Toshiro Mifune) reveals his upbringings to the rest of the Samurai.
This moving, provacative and challenging film is an epic that still stands head and shoulders over many others nearly 50 years after it's initial release...and a film that you can watch time and time again, and uncover another gem within it's rich tapestry upon each repeated viewing. I've shown this movie to many friends who were either not interested in older black and white productions...or not keen on subtitled movies...and they have all enjoyed it and remarked how they never knew that they could relish a 50 year old movie so much !!
This film truly belongs in any persons movie collection who considers themselves a true afficiando of cinema...an experience in emotion, energy and vision that will not be forgotten by those who view this wonderful work.
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Most Recent Customer Reviews
5.0 out of 5 stars Five Stars
One of the greatest movies I've ever seen. Absolutely captivating!
Published 10 hours ago by JB11
5.0 out of 5 stars Five Stars
I think this is one of the greatest movies ever made.
Published 2 days ago by frank pavone
5.0 out of 5 stars Movie worth seeing more than once
I don't want to sound cliche but this movie really did open my eyes and see why this movie receives many praises. Sure it's three hours but it honestly did not feel that long! Read more
Published 7 days ago by AICfan
5.0 out of 5 stars War and Leadership
An inspiring movie that explains, directly or indirectly, the many aspects of war and leadership.
Published 9 days ago by Fabian
2.0 out of 5 stars However I was disappointed that Disc 2 was not recognized by all my...
There were 3 discs. However I was disappointed that Disc 2 was not recognized by all my computers and was not played.
Published 11 days ago by Risa Angus
5.0 out of 5 stars This is what the Magnificent Seven was based on.
A classic, What more can be said.
Published 18 days ago by Robert A. Knox
5.0 out of 5 stars Masterpeice in every way
Ecellent and informative notes about this stunning film and beautiful print.
Published 22 days ago by M. Stewart
5.0 out of 5 stars Seven Samurai, A Time Tested Classic
Look past prejudices, old filming and having to read subtitles. Once past that you'll have yourself an awesome movie. Read more
Published 26 days ago by Happy Camper
5.0 out of 5 stars Five Stars
Classic movie love toshiro mi fine character
Published 28 days ago by LUIS FELIZ REYES
4.0 out of 5 stars Four Stars
Don't remember this one
Published 1 month ago by Alan R. Skuba
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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
Mifune Toshiro
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 I. G. Howe |  See all 3 posts
Criterion?
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
Region Free?
No, region A.
Jan 3, 2011 by A. A. Caride |  See all 2 posts
why has the price gone up- cheaper @criterion.com Be the first to reply
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