Like all the exogenous events inspire the price of crude to surge, bandits raiding a village and seizing the barley crop should drive the cost of the commodity to new highs. Amid the death and destruction, farmers face financial ruin and decide to take action by hiring a number of samurai to protect them. Showcasing innovative cinematography and a tremendous score, Akira Kurosawa’s Seven Samurai illustrates the significance of trust and teamwork and the importance of brains over brawn.
Initially, tensions prevent the ronin and the town’s residents from working together well. Nobody wishes to risk their life to save others. Only when barriers between the villagers and the samurai and the warriors and the farmers dissolve can an effective team take shape. Throughout the film, the village is successful when working together but fails when individuals deviate from the plan.
Mike Krzyzewski wrote – as have many others in many books of dubious quality – that like a hand only becomes stronger when five fingers make a fist, a team must come together to succeed. Yet ultimately, the threat of the invaders is required to inspire everyone to unite.
“Once more, we survive.”
– Kambei Shimada
Neither the strongest or fastest, Shimada’s poise allows him to lead the other samurai and villagers. Throughout the film, he balances pragmatism with honour and humility. All of the samurai offer different skills and the diverse contributions are required to overcome the marauders’ superior numbers.
At first, the film portrays the struggle as a battle between good villagers and evil villains. As the samurai learn more about the struggle, they discover that the townspeople are not what they seem, guilty of war crimes yet sacrificing their own food to ensure that the guests are well-fed. Again, people are painted not in black and white but shades of grey.
The film’s characters mirror human characteristics: youth, impulsiveness, rage, wisdom. Ultimately, cunning and experience triumph but not without struggle. Kurosawa’s climax illustrates the intensity of battle and the mastery of fear needed for victory.
As the film concludes, it is time to reseed the barley fields. Despite their success, the village must make a new start. Despite the accolades won, Shimada and the surviving ronin must accept that the victory does not belong to them and they must deal with the costs of the fighting. ****