Seven Samurai

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Macmillan, Feb 26, 2002 - Performing Arts - 79 pages
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In 'Seven Samurai' (1954), a whole society is on the verge of irrevocable change. Akira Kurosawa's celebrated film, regarded by many to be the major achievement of Japanese cinema, is an epic that evokes the cultural upheaval brought on by the collapse of Japanese militarism in the sixteenth century, echoing also the sweeping cultural changes occurring in the aftermath of the American Occupation. The plot is deceptively simple. A village of farmers is beleaguered by a horde of bandits. In desperation the farmers decide to hire itinerant samurai to protect their crops and people from the bandits. There had never been a Japanese film in which peasants hired samurai, or an evocation of the social transformation that made such an idea credible. There are six samurai and one who is accepted as such. Together they reflect the ideals and values of a noble class near the point of extinction. Mellen contextualizes 'Seven Samurai', marking its place in Japanese cinema and in Kurosawa's career. She explores the film's roots in medieval history and, above all, the astonishing visual language in which Kurosawa created his elegiac epic.
 

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Contents

Body
6
Back Matter
78
Back Matter
79
Back Matter
80
Back Matter
81
Back Matter
82
Back Cover
84
Copyright

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About the author (2002)

Joan Mellen is Professor of English and Creative Writing at Temple University in Philadelphia. Among her books are Marilyn Monroe (1973), Voices from the Japanese Cinema (1975), The Waves at Genji's Door: Japan Through Its Cinema (1976) and the dual biography Hellman and Hammett: The Legendary Passion of Lilian Hellman and Dashiell Hammett (1996).