Seven Samurai Film Notes,
Director: Akira Kurosawa; Japan, 1954
HUM 210 Online Course Pack - Fall 2006 - Prof. Cora Agatucci
Samurai Film Notes, continued
SEVENTH SAMURAI, cont.
[Kurosawa screenplay, 110-113]
MEANWHILE, BACK IN THE VILLAGE, before the 7 samurai arrive
. . .
Manzo, obsessed with selfish worry that one of the
recruited samurai will seduce his daughter Shino and
bring him personal shame, is driven to confront the innocent
Shino, washing her hair in their home, and demand that she cut
off her hair and disguise herself as a boy. Manzo, razor in
hand, chases his screaming daughter out into the village
commons, alarming every other farmer with a young daughter in
[Kurosawa screenplay, 112-114]
[Kurosawa screenplay, 114-118]
sequence of shots: of screaming villagers rushing into the
Village square; of the ever-alert samurai - each in turn -
instantly on the run, out of the Mill, across the bridge, into
the Village square; of terrified Yohei, screaming "Help!
The bandits are coming!" In the Village square, chaos and panic
prevails among the villagers, while Kambei, the trained samarai
leader, commands that everyone calm down and shouts out
strategic questions: where the bandits are coming from, who saw
the bandits, and finally, "Who rang the alarm?" Off
screen, Kikuchiyo shouts, "I did!" Camera singles out
Kikuchiyo, seen over the heads of the crowd, then
centered in the frame, beating the wooden alarm clapper,
then laughing and making faces at the cowering crowd of
villagers. Enjoying his moment at the center of all this
attention, Kikuchiyo mocks the farmers: "Don't be scared! . . .
. No bandits are coming! . . . Look, you idiots. We come
all this way and then look at the welcome you give us! Yet
when I knock on your alarm a few times . . . You all rush out
screaming for us to help you!" Kikuchiyo mocks the
villagers with malicious abandon, and shows open disgust, and
the villagers display shamefaced discomfort.
[Kurosawa screenplay, 118-123]
11.b Next Day: Kambei holds a MAP of the Village environs; Katsushiro and Gorobei (emerging as Kambei's right hand man), join Kambei to discuss defense strategies. [Preparations for the defense of the Village begin, with different samurai using their special skills to direct defense preparations:]
TRAINING (1): Shot sequence of Kyuzo training a line of farmers, armed with bamboo spears, to fight the Bandits. Medium close-up of young Katsushiro, watching with admiration and developing hero-worship for Kyuzo, the sword master.
TRAINING (2): Shot sequence of Heihachi using empathetic humor to train another group of farmers: "So you're afraid of the enemy. Well, that's only natural . . . but remember, they're afraid of you too!" Heichachi and his farmer-trainees all laugh happily, as Kambei, Gorobei, and Katsushiro pass by.
TRAINING (3): Shot sequence of Kikuchiyo browbeating another group of cowering farmers holding bamboo spears: "Oh, you're all just splendid. Standing there like a line of scarecrows. . . . Only, remember, these bandits aren't crows - and they're not sparrows either." As Kikuchiyo speaks, Kambei, Gorobei, and Katsushiro, overseeing operations, pass by. A group of admiring children is revealed, in the foreground, avidly watching as Kikuchiyo draws his over-sized sword and singles out nervous Yohei. Noticing Yohei's spear, a battle-weapon superior to the other farmer's rough bamboo spears, Kikuchiyo questions Yohei about where he got it. Kikuchiyo hurls his accusation: "You don't get spears like that unless you take them - from dead samurai. If you have this one then you must have others" (Shouting at all of them.) "Where are they?"
"STILL A CHILD"
[Kurosawa screenplay, 122-125 ]
SUBPLOT: A Love Story Begins . . .
Katsushiro, waist-deep in flowers, wanders alone in the
forest, sits beside the stream in a patch of sunlight, lies back
on a carpet of small white flowers, smiles with contentment and
closes his eyes.
[Kurosawa screenplay, 125-131]
Understanding of the samurai's hostility toward the farmers, as well as the bitter irony of the situation, dawns upon Kikuchiyo, he laughs loudly and begins shouting at the samurai [and his speech goes something like this]: "Well, what do you think farmers are? Saints? . . . Hah! They're foxy beasts! They say, 'We've got no rice, we've no wheat. We've got nothing!' But they have! They have everything! Dig under the floors! Or search the barns! You'll find plenty! Beans, salt, rice, cake! Look in the valleys, they've got hidden warehouses! They pose as saints but are full of lies! If they smell a battle, they hunt the wounded and the defeated [samurai]! . . . They're nothing but stingy, greedy, blubbering, foxy, and mean! . . . . But then who made them such beasts? You did! You samurai did it! You burn their villages! Destroy their farms! Steal their food! Force them to labour! Take their women! And kill them if they resist! So what should farmers do?" His bitter fury expended, Kikuchiyo curses the samurai, sinks to his knees and breaks down crying. Reaction close-up of Kambei unfolding his arms and looking down at his hands, Heihachi and Shichiroji visible behind him. The samurai are clearly moved. When Kambei finally looks up, tears in his eyes, he says quietly to sobbing Kikuchiyo, "You're a farmer's son, aren't you?" Kikuchiyo looks up, gets to his feet, and runs out of the room, past approaching Rikichi leading Grandad into the main room. When Grandad asks, "Is anything the matter?" Kambei, rubbing his shaved head, replies, "No, nothing."
on the road that night, wind blows up dust around
Katsushiro, returning late, who runs into a distraught
Kikuchiyo, still clad in full samurai armor. Noticing
Katsushiro, watching him with puzzled interest, Kikuchiyo pushes
the younger man away with a spear; staggering on, Kikuchiyo
notices and rebuffs with his weapon a group of children, his
ever-following groupies. FADE OUT.
[Kurosawa screenplay, 131-136]
14.b The same day, In the Forest, near a small stream: Come here to "practice," Kyuzo stands, then suddenly lunges with his sword twice at an imagined adversary. Sword erect, Kyuzo then crosses the stream and strides off into the dripping forest. Cut to Kyuzo, stopping by a large tree, then leaning against the tree trunk. In the background, Shino appears outside a rough wooden hut in the rain, looking up the forest track toward the Village. Bending down to see her reflection in a rain puddle, Shino hastily combs and tidies her chopped off hair. Medium intercut shots of Kyuzo by the tree trunk, watching with interest but unseen by Shino. Kyuzo, sheathing his sword, continues watching but moves farther behind the tree truck to keep out of sight. In the distance, Katsushiro comes into view, splashing through rain puddles on the track from the Village, until he reaches Shino; then they duck into the wood hut.
14.c The same day, In the Forest, Inside the Wood Hut: Unwrapping a parcel, Katsushiro shows Shino that he has brought her rice. He urges her to eat the rice, observing that he has tasted the "terrible" millet she and the other farmers have been eating. Offering to leave while she eats, Katsushiro walks outside the hut. Following him outside the hut, Shino refuses to eat the rice, explaining that she'd rather take his rice to Kyomon's grandmother [who has no living male relatives to provide for her]. Intercuts: Kyuzo still watches the couple from behind the tree truck. Katsushiro takes Shino's arm and they leave, walking back toward the Village. Kyuzo leaves his hiding place and follows them. WIPE.
14.d That evening, Rikichi's House: Rikichi serves the 7 samurai their dinner of rice. As Rikichi is about to serve Katsushiro, he declares that he is not hungry, asking that his portion be reserved. Then Kyuko discreetly intervenes, volunteering to reserve something from his portion of the rice and encouraging Katsushiro to go ahead and eat his full portion. Kambei is intrigued by this interchange. WIPE.
14.e Village Hut of Kyumon's Grandmother, Rain pouring down outside: The old woman bends over a bowl of rice placed before her, overlooked compassionately by Katsushiro, Rikichi, Kambei, and the other samurai. Appalled that the old woman has been starving, Kambei says, "But this is terrible" to Rikichi, who explains that all the old woman's relatives were killed the Bandits. The old woman looks up at them and says, "I want to die." Amid the sympathetic samurai, Kikuchiyo is in a bad temper. Kyumon's Grandmother haltingly continues: "I don't want to live anymore . . . . But I'm afraid . . . that the next world . . . will be terrible too." Tender-hearted Heihachi, trying to comfort, tells her that Paradise is nice, without any bandits. But a glaring Kikuchiyo explodes: "How do you know? Ever been dead? . . . I hate misery. And I hate miserable people. . . . Looking at a worm like her I get sick. Wretched, helpless. I never want to be like that. . . . I want to be reckless, daring . . . ." Kambei responds, "Then you just keep feeling like that until the bandits come."
14.f Outside the Old Woman's Hut: Kyuzo emerges from the hut into the rain. Katsushiro appears in the entrance behind him, then comes up to Kyuzo and stammers: "Wait . . . you . . . you saw me today didn't you? I mean, with . . . " Kyuzo affirms that he saw Katsushiro with the girl [Shino]. When Katsushiro asks why he didn't say anything to the others, Kyuzo responds simply, "You want me to? [alternative translation:] What do you want me to say?" FADE OUT.
FADE IN: Ripening
crops fill the camera frame, rippling in the breeze.
[Kurosawa screenplay, 136-141]
15.b The few villagers, like Mosuke, whose homes lie OUTSIDE the defenses designed to protect the central Village, are reminded that they must evacuate; Water-Mill home of Grandad/Gisaku also lies outside central village defenses and his relatives despair, knowing that Grandad probably cannot be persuaded to evacuate his home before the Bandits attack [Kurosawa screenplay, 137]
15.c Village square. Day: Certain the Bandits will come soon after harvest to the attack the Village, chief-of-staff Gorobei - backed by the other samurai - lectures Village farmers on their duty to work together and camp together in preparing Village defenses against the Bandits after the Harvest is brought in. When Kikuchiyo advises the farmers to "love your wives plenty tonight," the villagers roar with laughter, and good-humored Heihachi encourages them to keep up such high spirits. [This is a unique moment of UNITY, when farmers and samurai are as one.]
15.d Mosuke rebels: Calling to him those few villagers whose homes lie outside central Village defenses, Mosuke enjoins them "to throw down your spears. It's useless to carry a spear to protect someone else's house when you can't protect your own." The five villagers start to run off, but stop when Kambei commands them to "Wait! . . . return to your units." Other samurai, standing before their units of farmers, support Kambei, who delivers a stern lecture: "There are only three houses beyond the bridge and there are twenty in the village. We cannot endanger twenty because of three. . . . And if the village is destroyed, those three will not be safe anyway. . . . War is like that. If the defence is for everyone, each individual will be protected. The man who thinks only of himself, destroys himself. From now on such desertion will be punished" (Kurosawa screenplay, 140). After raising, then putting away his sword, Kambei walks through the parade of farmer-troops and passes out of the frame. No one else moves. The wind rises and blows. FADE OUT.
16. DVD: INTERMISSION [Kurosawa screenplay,141]
Kurosawa, Akira. Seven Samurai. Trans. Donald
Keene. 1970. Seven Samurai and Other
Seven Samurai [Japan: Shichinin no samurai].
Dir. Akira Kurosawa. Wr. Akira Kurosawa, Shinobu
Introduction to Seven
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Shichinin no samurai
Asian Film Connections: Akira Kurosawa (1910-1998)
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Last updated: 02 October 2006