The Seven Samurai and the Magnificent Seven

         Films have a way of spurring new ideas, and creating new takes on old ideas. In the film industry, everyone learns from everyone, and to some extent borrow ideas and sometimes even steal them. A popular trend now is the re-make. Many old films are being remade with modern actors and modern technology, but this is not a new idea. Filmmakers have been influencing each other since the beginning of the cinema. One such instance is the Akira Kurosawa’s Seven Samurai and John Sturges’ The Magnificent Seven.

         The Seven Samurai, directed in 1954 by Akira Kurosawa, the director of Rashômon (1950) and Hakuchi (1951), is a story about a small village that hires seven unemployed samurai to defend the people from bandits. Many critics say that The Seven Samurai is one of the greatest epic films ever made, that it is a compilation of beautiful cinematography that is edited together to create a pace for the film that fits the war they are in. The Seven Samurai is one of the best-received foreign films by the west; it was honored with the silver lion from the Venice Film Festival and an Academy Award for Best Foreign Film.

         The film was remade in 1960 by John Sturges as the American western The Magnificent Seven. The Magnificent Seven has practically the same story line as The Seven Samurai; the only difference is that The Magnificent Seven is set in the American West in the 1800’s; and, instead of samurai, the good guys are gunmen. The Magnificent Seven started a trend of samurai film imitations that eventually led to the Clint Eastwood Spaghetti Westerns.

         The history of cinema is one of building; film makers come up with an idea; and then others build upon it, change it, look at it a different way. This is one of the most beautiful aspects of film.

Justin Wylie

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