Akira Kurosawa’s SEVEN SAMURAI, Restored in 4K for the First Time | Opens July 5 at Film Forum

SEVEN-SAMURAIA new 4K restoration of Akira Kurosawa’s epic masterpiece, SEVEN SAMURAI (1954), starring the legendary Toshiro Mifune and Takashi Shimura, will run at Film Forum from Friday, July 5 through Thursday, July 18.

In 16th century Japan, as proud samurai end up as masterless, wandering ronin and farmers are prostrate under the heel of marauding bandits, a village patriarch counsels resistance. How? Hire samurai, “hungry samurai.” Under the calm leadership of Takashi Shimura (Kurosawa regular, star of Ikiru and Godzilla), that magic number enlist for a war against 40 mounted bandits, winding up at the most hair-raising battle ever filmed.

Kurosawa’s orchestration of swords, spears, arrows, men, horses, rain, wind, and mud; blazing tracking shots; giant close ups; chiaroscuro lighting; telephoto lenses that put us underfoot as horses crash amid struggling men; deep focus shots that render the tip of a sword poking into the lens equally clear with scurrying figures fifty feet away, transitions that effortlessly whip us from scene to scene; and ensemble performances that give dimensionality to every character, topped by Toshiro Mifune’s eventual transition from manic goofball to tortured, self-hating tragic hero make SEVEN SAMURAI one of the most influential films of all time.

Mifune arrived at Toho Studios in 1947 seeking a photographer’s assistant job, when he was spotted by young contract director Akira Kurosawa. Thus began an artistic partnership that would produce some of the greatest masterpieces of world cinema, including Rashomon, Throne of Blood, The Hidden Fortress, High and Low, and Yojimbo.

By 1954, Kurosawa was already established as Japan’s most celebrated director with reputation-cementing triumphs Rashomon (1950) and Ikiru (1952), and he worked closely again with screenwriting partner Shinobu Hashimoto to craft the screenplay from a five-hundred-page treatment inspired by their research into a farming village’s true enlistment of samurai for protection against roving marauders.

SEVEN SAMURAI was voted as the Best Japanese Film ever in the 1979 Kinema Junpo critics poll.