Greatest Film Scenes
and Moments

Seven Samurai (1954, Jp.)


Written by Tim Dirks

Title Screen
Movie Title/Year and Scene Descriptions

Seven Samurai (1954, Jp.) (aka Shichinin no samurai)

In Akira Kurosawa's epic dramatic masterpiece set in the year 1586 - and later used as a template for the western The Magnificent Seven (1960), it was about a Japanese peasant village protected from roving hordes of bandits by seven unemployed, recruited samurai or ronin (swordsmen), who were compensated with three meals of rice a day and lodging:

  • the 16th century epic plot was set during the Sengoku Period, a lawless time of civil wars when farmers were at the mercy of ferocious brigands of bandits, who galloped on horses across the screen in the film's opening; a Bandit Chieftain (Shinpei Takagi) and his second-in-command captain (Shin Ôtomo) peered down from a high-angle on a mountain village but decided not to ravage it once again for its rice and barley, until after the harvest came in: ("We just took their rice last fall. They'll have nothing now"); in the village, the peasants moaned and cried out: "Is there no god to protect us? Land tax, forced labor, war, drought, and now bandits! The gods want us farmers dead!"
Hordes of Bandits Roaming the Countryside and Considering Attacking a Village
  • the villagers discussed what they might do in the future: Should they surrender their harvest to the bandits, or fight back against them?; a young farmer Rikichi (Yoshio Tsuchiya) strongly suggested that the villagers should fight back and not bargain with the bandits - "Kill or be killed," but an older farmer named Manzo (Kamatari Fujiwara) disagreed - he recommended for them to submit to the bandits: "The farmer's only choice is to endure. We can't defy the powerful. When the bandits arrive, we'll greet them meekly and quietly hand over all our barley. We'll plead with them to leave just enough for us to survive"
  • the villagers decided to seek the advice of the village's elder-patriarch Gisaku (Kokuten Kôdô) who lived in an old mill; he advised briskly: "We fight...We'll hire samurai"; some were troubled and questioned: "Whoever heard of farmers hiring samurai?," especially samurai who were known to be proud; the elder responded that the villagers should hire those who were unemployed or hungry: "Find hungry samurai. Even bears come down from the mountains when they're hungry"
  • in the nearby town, three villagers' initial efforts over a ten-day period to directly hire samurai were frustrating and unsuccessful, since most possible candidates refused what they called "charity" for only three meals a day, and some were unsuited and weak; but then some of the villagers witnessed the cunning rescue of a young 7 year-old male hostage from a thief that changed everything
Kambei's Killing of Thief with Child Hostage
  • in a powerful sequence, wise veteran leader ronin (samurai warrior) Kambei Shimada (Takashi Shimura) disguised himself as a monk (his head was shaved and he was dressed in a monk's robe) to rescue the child hostage held in the town's barn-hut by a kidnapper-thief (Eijirô Tôno); he calmed the kidnapper: ("I'm just a monk, I mean you no harm") and offered food (two rice-balls) to feed the man and upset child; but then, in an intercut edited sequence with various crowd reaction shots while wielding a sword inside the hut, Kambei killed the man who ran out of the hut and fell face-forward dead (in slow-motion)
  • Kambei's rescue brought forth a wealthy, idealistic, and immature young nobleman named Katsushiro Okamoto (Isao Kimura), who eagerly begged to be Kambei's disciple-acolyte; Kambei at first refused ("There's nothing special about me"), but Katsushiro was insistent that he wanted to tag-along: ("I'm determined to follow you whether you allow me to or not")
  • when the farmers asked Kambei (and Katsushiro) to help defend their village, Kambei asserted: "This isn't a game"; Kambei speculated that "defense is more difficult than offense"- and that he would need to recruit four more masterless samurai warriors (seven in total, including himself); he theorized that at least four men would be needed to guard each side of the entire village, and two more would be needed to help guard the rear (up against the mountains)
  • Kambei accepted their offer to take up the "cause" of the farmers and began to recruit more "trustworthy" samurai to "contend with a gang of bandits" and defend a group of villagers for no stipend, rank, money or reward; he set up tests of swordsmanship skills but some refused to fight for basically nothing, while others joined
The Rag-Tag Group of Seven Samurai

Kambei Shimada (Takashi Shimura) - the Elderly and Wise Master

Katsushiro Okamoto (Isao Kimura) - the Disciple

Gorobei Katayama (Yoshio Inaba) - a Good-Natured Giant; an Expert Archer

Shichirōji (Daisuke Katô) - a Round-Faced Old Friend

Heihachi Hayashida (Minoru Chiaki) - a Woodchopper

Kyūzō (Seiji Miyaguchi) - a Stoic, Quiet Swordsman

Kikuchiyo (Toshiro Mifune)
  • in addition to six warriors in total, Kambei - after initial strong reluctance - also accepted a burly, wild, eccentric, annoying, amusing and arrogant Kikuchiyo (Toshiro Mifune), an insolent 'black sheep' character who falsely claimed he was a samurai warrior and had persistently followed after them
  • the villagers worried about the samurai who had sometimes acquired a bad reputation for their abusive treatment of young girls; Manzo became paranoid that his pretty young daughter Shino (Keiko Tsushima) would be seduced and ordered her to chop off her hair and pretend to be masculine to protect her from the lustful samurai: ("Cut your hair and dress like a man...It's only because I love you")
  • once the group of samurai arrived in the village, the residents did not warmly greet them, but actually cowered and hid in their huts; however, Kikuchiyo tricked the farmers with a false alarm about a bandit attack - and they came rushing out begging for the samurai to save them; he rebuked the people for groveling for protection, calling them "blockheads" and "mud snails"; as a result Kikuchiyo was begrudgingly accepted as the seventh samurai: ("Looks like he's good for something after all")
  • while the villagers were being trained to fight in small squad groups with spears for an anticipated siege, master Kambei surveyed the village with a hand-drawn map and prepared for the strategic defense of its perimeter by flooding some of the fields and evacuating three outlying houses that would be impossible to protect: ("This is the nature of war: By protecting others, you save yourself. If you only think of yourself, you'll only destroy yourself")
  • Kikuchiyo realized that the villagers in the past had likely murdered injured, fleeing, retreating or dying samurai from other nearby battles and taken their weapons (i.e., bamboo spears), and he showed off traditional samurai armor and weapons from dead warriors that had been secretly hidden ("Plunder from defeated warriors")
  • Kambei and the others were angered by the discovery, and Kikuchiyo - who was wearing some of the samurai armor - suspected that the farmers were more wily than they had originally thought and "playing innocent" - he speculated that they were also hiding and hoarding their food: ("What did ya think these farmers were anyway? Buddhas or something? Don't make me laugh! There's no creature on earth as wily as a farmer! Ask 'em for rice, barley, anything, and all they ever say is, 'We're all out.' But they've got it. They've got everything. Dig under the floorboards. If it's not there, try the barn. You'll find plenty. Jars of rice, salt, beans, sake! Go up in the mountains. They have hidden fields. They kowtow and lie, playing innocent the whole time. You name it, they'll cheat you on it! After a battle, they hunt down the losers with their spears. Listen to me! Farmers are misers, weasels, and cry-babies! They're mean, stupid murderers! Damn! I could laugh till I cry! But tell me this: Who turned them into such monsters? You did! You samurai did! Damn you to hell! In war, you burn their villages, trample their fields, steal their food, work them like slaves, rape their women, and kill 'em if they resist. What do you expect 'em to do? What the hell are farmers supposed to do?")
  • Kikuchiyo ranted at the other samurai, calling them responsible as a group for oppressing the lower-class farmers for many years; he accused them of turning the villagers into rapists, thieves, and overall mean, stupid murderers; his emotional speech revealed his own peasant upbringing; the sobbing Kikuchiyo sank to his knees, and swore: "Damn it! Goddamn it!"; after a long pause, Kambei asked him: "You were born a farmer, weren't you?" - it was a surprising revelation that Kikuchiyo wasn't a samurai after all, but the son of a village peasant; now clearly identifying with the plight of the villagers, he served as a symbolic bridge between them and their samurai protectors
  • meanwhile, Katsushiro had just come upon disguised Shino (dressed like a short-haired boy) picking flowers in a field; suspecting her, he chased after her and wrestled her down and quickly realized she was a female; he soon began sharing food with her in private, and a romantic affair developed

Short-Haired Shino Disguised as a Boy
The Start of a Romance Between Shino and Young Katsushiro
  • Shino and Katsushiro were about to have sex together in a field, when they were interrupted by noise from horses of nearby bandit scouts; two were swiftly identified and killed by Kyūzō, with Katsushiro watching, while the third bandit was questioned and then killed by the avenging villagers
  • the bandits' fort encampment was located a half days' ride away, and it was decided to conduct a pre-emptive strike on it by burning it down; earlier, samurai Heihachi had made an untimely joke about troubled and vengeful villager Rikichi not having a wife (not knowing she had been previously captured by the bandits and was forced into concubinage); now while Rikichi (who accompanied the three samurai as a guide) ferociously fought against the bandits, he briefly glimpsed his kidnapped wife at the doorway of the burning hut; he followed her as she raced back in; Heihachi lost his life (a musket shot in the back) as he attempted to pull Rikichi away from the burning structure
  • during the funeral ceremony for Heihachi back in the village, as a tribute to the fallen samurai, Kikuchiyo raised the banner-flag Heihachi had created atop one of the rooftops; just then, the bandits appeared on the mountains behind the village
  • just before the expected bandit raid, a bridge was removed and fortifications around the village had been strengthened, including the construction of a moat (a flooded field) lined with high bamboo fence-barriers so that there was only one way into the village (Kambei: "You can't win by defense alone")
  • the climax of the film was a lengthy 3-day battle against about 40 armed bandits assaulting the village; they first attacked and burned the outlying huts and old mill barn across the stream, where they murdered the stubborn Old Man elder and a young couple (with a child); Kikuchiyo self-identified with the orphaned child that he saved ("This baby... is me! This is just what happened to me!")

Outlying Village Homes Burned

Kikuchiyo Rescuing Orphaned Baby

Bandit Speared in the Back
  • during hand-to-hand combat and the use of spears by the villagers, several of the bandits were killed attempting to scale the barricades or cross the moats; the smart strategy of the samurai was to allow only a few bandits (in the cavalry) to enter into the village on horseback through a small gap or entryway - before surrounding and ambushing them one-by-one; Kambei kept an accurate count of the killed bandits with a chart marked with X's
  • Kikuchiyo unwisely abandoned his post to steal a second musket (to receive praise like Kyuzo had earlier), but unexpectedly, Kambei chastised him: "There's nothing heroic about selfishly grabbing for glory...War is not fought alone"; Kikuchiyo's absence had allowed a breach in the fortifications and more villagers died; Gorobei was also slain (off-screen) at his post (it was the second of four samurai casualties)
  • Kambei knew that the third and last day of fighting would be a showdown and "a fight to the finish"; realizing that they might die, Shino encouraged Katsushiro to have sex with her, but then they were embarrassed after being caught by her father Manzo, who beat her and called her a "tramp," "wench," a "slut" and "damaged goods"; Shichirōji reasoned with the enraged father: "On the eve of decisive battles, this often happens... You can't blame them...What's wrong with two people in love? It's not like bandits took her!"
  • during the rain-soaked last day of fighting in the mud during torrential downpours against the remaining 13 bandits, Kyuzo with his sword drawn outside was shot in the back by the dishonorable Bandit Chief hiding in the woman's hut; the fourth and final samurai casualty was Kikuchiyo who was charging into the hut to avenge Kyuzo's death when he was shot in the abdomen; he briefly revived and retaliated against the bandit chief by skewering him with his sword before dying of his own lethal wounds; the remaining bandits were defeated

Bandit Chief Entering Women's Hut

Kyuzo With Sword Just Before Being Shot Dead In Muddy Courtyard

Kikuchiyo Lethally Shot in the Abdomen

Kikuchiyo's Killing of the Bandit Chief Before Expiring Himself

The Three Surviving Samurai ("Once more we survive"): Katsushiro, Kambei, Shichirōji

The Farmers Again at Peace, Planting Rice in Fields
  • the final scene was of the farmers finally at peace again - planting their next crop of rice as they happily sang and played rhythmic music; Katsushirō and Shino briefly stared at each other before she passed by him to continue her field work - due to their class differences, their relationship was destined to be over
  • the ending shot was of the three viewing the graves or funeral mounds of their four dead comrades (each with a samurai sword sticking out), above the graves of the fallen villagers, with Kambei's words to Shichirōji about how the victory belonged to the farmers, but not to the samurai: "In the end, we lost this battle too...I mean, the victory belongs to those peasants. Not to us"

Village's Circle Meeting and Discussion: What Should Be Done About the Bandits?

The Opinion of Older Farmer Manzo: Submit Meekly to the Bandits and Don't Fight Back

The Old Man Gisaku's Suggestion: Hire Hungry Samurai To Protect the Village

Samurai Kambei Shimada - With Shaved Head and Wearing Monk's Robe - a Cunning Ploy to Save a Child Hostage

Kambei's Aspiring Disciple-Acolyte Katsushiro

When Kambei Was Asked to Help Defend the Villagers - He Responded: "This isn't a game"

The Group of Seven Samurai

Villager Manzo's Pretty Daughter Shino (Keiko Tsushima)


Rebuking the Fearful Villagers For Groveling For Protection From the Samurai After a False Bandit Alarm

Training the Villagers to Defend Themselves

Kikuchiyo - Wearing Armor Taken from Dead Samurai by the Wily Farmers - His Lengthy Denunciation of the Samurai

Kambei's Insightful Question to Kikuchiyo: ("You were born a farmer, weren't you?")

Preparations for the Coming War

The Seven Samurai Alerting the Village to Presence of Bandit Scouts

Rikichi Noticing Kidnapped Wife at Bandit Camp

Heihachi Attempting to Pull Rikichi Back Before His Own Death

Banner-Flag Raised in Tribute by Kikuchiyo for Heihachi

The Villagers Readied with Spears at One of the Main Entrances

X's Represented Dead Bandits

Gorobei Slain (Off-Screen)

Shino and Katsushiro Embarrassed For Being Caught By Her Father, After Having Sex

Last Day's Rain-Soaked Battle Between Villagers (and Samurai) and the Bandits on Horseback

Kambei to Shichirōji: "In the end, we lost this battle too"

The Graves or Funeral Mounds of Four Dead Samurai Behind Graves of Villagers - Viewed by Samurai Survivors


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