Seven Samurai and Magnificent Seven

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Humanity's frailty necessitates the presence of a hero. Unfortunately, most heroes never achieve success and die in mysterious circumstances. They either compromise their own aspirations and desires in order to prioritize the needs of the poor, or they balance their needs so that everyone profits (Hidehiro 73). Throughout history, many authors and film directors have tried to integrate aspects of the savior into their scripts. The 1954 film Seven Samurai, directed by Akira Kurosawa, is a classic exploration of the theme of violence and redemption. The film is the original depiction on which latter renditions such as Antoine Fuqua’s 2016 film; The Magnificent Seven and its former 1960 version with the same title (director John Sturges) draw their elements of production and screenplay.

There is a clear alignment in the three films since various scenes carry particular themes towards advancing the plot as well as character development (Dargis n.p). The different examples of the aligning scenes in the two separate productions by various directors depict the humanity of the leaders (Phillips and Stringer 50). In the Akira Kurosawa’s version, the scene involves the main character, Kanbei disguising himself as a monk on his mission to save a child taken hostage.

Conversely, John Sturges alters the selflessness scene of the first production to depict his primary character, Chris, who is the leader of his band, alongside his partner, Vin, confronting thugs who are standing in the way of burial to help the innocent victims (Sturges). Both scenes play a fundamental role in the plot development because they explain the selflessness of the heroes (Fuqua). The villagers who are at the mercy of marauding raiders do not have wealth to pay for the services of the heroes. It, therefore, takes a hero who is willing to work for the benefit of others even when they stand to lose, thus the validity of the scenes.

The scenes also have a profound impact on character development. Although the audience is just meeting the heroes, the scenes help to depict them as individuals who care for the welfare of humanity. The characters also come out as people who can take charge of situations while showing leadership qualities. Thus, Chris and Kanbei come out as leaders and heroes in the separate productions.

The difference in filming takes into account the extent each director wishes to explore the characters as well as their backgrounds as relevant to the plot (Jcrash n.p). Director John Sturges is keen on the drama in the production and thus focuses on the action. On the other hand, director Akira Kurosawa focuses on exploring the development of each character so that the audience can develop a deep and profound relationship with them. It is the reason that the film Seven Samurai has a considerably more bittersweet ending than the latter versions.

Akira Kurosawa was keen on exploring each scene at multiple angles. The scenes in this scene, as well as the other scenes, have the same action from separate angles so that the perception of the viewer is not limited (Ricwulf n.p). The frequency and speed of the cut follow the same pattern of placing the viewer in action by ensuring clarity of all the angles while establishing the pace of the story through the various camera and character movement.

The scene has wide-angle views as well as close-ups to focus on the action in the scene. The value of the close-up shots is the focuses on the individual elements that make the scene stand out in its role towards plot and character development. The relevance of the scene is to bring out the selflessness Kanbei as he rescues the child (Phillips and Stringer 50). The focus on the scene will thus elaborate his character as a hero who can work for poor farmers who cannot afford to pay him for his services.

Magnificent seven, on the other hand, has the advantage of western film technology in its production (Whitty n.p). For this reason, the director had the advantage of shooting a single scene multiple times to capture various motions and expressions. The scene, therefore, focuses on different angles of the action through various shots that include close-up shots and wide screen shots that depict the entire scene (Keough 57). With the cowboy theme that runs through the entire film, the apparel follows the trend. Besides, the lighting in the scene is in most cases neutral. The director uses a combination of shots that range from the medium range shots to the up-close shots that emphasize the value of each prop and character as well as the wide shots that capture the entire scene.

There is a witnessed change in the movie settings and premise, but the director is very keen in ensuring he doesn’t alternate the source material in The Magnificent Seven. There is no particular period or date outlined; rather, the director insinuates the film to have occurred during the very end of the American “Old West.” The movie takes place basically in an isolated village in Mexico on the US border. The bandits enter the small town threatening the livelihoods of the poor peasants who cannot afford to seek the services of experienced war veterans for their security (Keough 49).

The subsequent remake of The Magnificent Seven (2016) also take place in the “Old West” settings characterized by not so sophisticated homesteads. The Town is then torched by a violent organization interested in gold mining. In Seven Samurai, depicts an individual (Rikichi) in revenge attacks to repay the destruction of his property at the hands of the bandits. Further, the village elder permits the importation of an external force, to act as a backup security, to assist in suppressing any potential aggression with rice as the only source of appreciation to the Samurai (experienced soldier). Save for the method of payment; the Magnificent Seven follows the same settings. However, a significant difference lies in the lack of tragic backstory by the major player in the person of Jorge Martinez de Hoyos, the Mexican village representative. This backstory limitation robs the representative the role of import reducing the classification of Hilaerio as a character of much significance other than a device meant to bring in the real heroes into play (Keough 59).

The three films right from the original depiction of hero and victim in Seven Samurai to the final version of Magnificent Seven in 2016 have over the years had differing reception and level of criticism. The fact remains that each producer devoted time and effort to ensure a unique production that borrowed elements from other production in history as well as events in the society that depict the feebleness of humanity and the need for a champion.

Works Cited

Dargis, Manohla. “Review: Denzel Washington Rides High in ‘The Magnificent Seven’.” The New York Times, September 22, 2016, [video file] Accessed 25 Jul. 2017.

Fuqua, Antoine. “The Magnificent Seven (2016).” IMDB, [video file] 2016. Accessed 25 Jul. 2017.

Hidehiro, Sonoda. “Modernity through Westernization: The Case of Japan.” International Research Center. for Japanese Studies, 2007

Jcrash. “The Magnificent Seven Samurai: Two Films, One Universal Story.” Jcrash, 2013, [video file]. Accessed 25 Jul. 2017.

Keough, Kyle. “Cowboys and Shoguns: The American Western, Japanese Jidaigeki, and Cross-Cultural Exchange.” University of Rhode Island, 2008.

Kurosawa, Akira. “Seven Samurai (1954).” IMDB, [video file]1956, Accessed 25 Jul. 2017.

Phillips, Alastair and Stringer, Julian. “Japanese Cinema: Texts And Contexts.” Routledge2 Park Square, Milton Park, Abingdon, Oxon, 7 Apr. 2008.

Ricwulf, Daniel. “The Magnificent Seven(s) & Seven Samurai: Similarities & Differences.” (2016) Accessed 25 Jul 2017

Sturges, John. “The Magnificent Seven (1960).” IMDB, [video file] 1960. Accessed 25 Jul. 2017.

Whitty, Stephen. “'Magnificent Seven' remake may have ammo in Chris Pratt, Denzel Washington, but mostly fires blanks: movie review.” New York Daily News, 20th September 2016.

October 26, 2021

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