The Influence of The Seven Samurai



The influence of classic films on other films is a phenomenon unnoticed by the casual movie buff. With the constant barrage of remakes, reboots and sequels, the influence of classic films on today’s films is quite evident. One movie from one of the greatest foreign filmmakers of all time influenced one of the greatest Westerns ever and one of the most successful computer animated films of all time.

Akira Kurosawa’s is the greatest filmmaker Japan has ever produced. Renowned in Hollywood and awarded an honorary Academy Award, Kurosawa’s influence on Western films is evident in two major films. The great science fiction classic Star Wars: Episode 1 is a translation of Kurosawa’s The Hidden Fortress and the Clint Eastwood western film, A Fistful of Dollars is based off of Yojimbo.

Among Kurosawa’s most renowned films, the 1954 classic, The Seven Samurai stands out the most. The film’s plot revolves around a lowly village that is raided yearly by a large gang of bandits. Tired of appeasing to these bandits, the villagers decide to hire the samurai to defend the village. The more than 3 hour film tells the story of how the villagers recruit the samurai and the rain soaked, action filled climax brought about a new age of storytelling and action directing.

At the time of release, The Seven Samurai was a box office hit not only in Japan but in the United States as well. To this day, it is well regarded as one of the greatest films of all time. But its greatest distinction is how it influenced some of Hollywood's most venerable films.

Starting with the western classic, The Magnificent Seven -- the classic Western film starred a cast of screen legends: Steve McQueen, Yul Brynner, James Coburn, Charles Bronson and Eli Wallach, to name a few. The plot remained faithful to Kurosawa’s film; The adaptation revolved around a small Mexican village constantly raided by bandits led by the main villain, Calvera. As the film continues villagers band together and recruit the gunslingers who, with much casualties, successfully defend their village.

Another film that was strongly influenced by The Seven Samurai is not particularly an action film, but rather a children’s film. The computer animated classic from Disney-Pixar, A Bug’s Life, tells the story of how an ant village hires a group of “mercenaries” to defend their village from marauding grasshoppers. A strong yet playful adaptation of Kurosawa’s classic, an ant by the name of Flik inexplicably seeks the help of circus performers, who he believes are mercenaries. The circus performers along with the help of the village, defeat the grasshoppers.

Many of today’s most successful film franchises are based or loosely adapted from Japanese films. As mentioned, Star Wars: Episode 1 is deeply influenced from Kurosawa’s The Hidden Fortress. The current hit, The Hunger Games, is regarded by many as an adaptation of the Japanese cult classic, Battle Royale. As much as we enjoy the classic of recent years, know they are inspired by several classic films from the past. And even more so, they are influenced by some of the greatest foreign filmmakers like one Akira Kurosawa.

Image credit: JOJOinLA on Flickr