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Film / Seven Samurai

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"This is the nature of war. By protecting others, you save yourselves."
Kambei Shimada

Seven Samurai is a 1954 Japanese film directed by Akira Kurosawa under Toho; it starred his longtime collaborators Takashi Shimura and Toshiro Mifune in two of the lead roles. It is considered by many Western critics to be the finest Japanese film of all time, and quite a few of them consider it to be one of the finest films ever made, period.

Menaced by an army of bandits and on the brink of starvation, a village in medieval Japan decides to hire a small, motley collection of Rōnin to defend them. Pity they have nothing to hire them with but rice...

It has been remade, homaged, or flat out ripped off numerous times, in genres ranging from western (The Magnificent Seven) to science fiction (Battle Beyond the Stars, Samurai 7, Star Wars: The Clone Wars) and, if you're willing to stretch a bit, anthropomorphized animals (A Bug's Life) and goofy comedies (¡Three Amigos!).


This film has a serious claim to not only being the forebear to nearly every getting-the-team-together-for-a-mission movie — whether it's a Hitchhiker Heroes, Ragtag Bunch of Misfits, Putting the Band Back Together, or even The Caper — but also to being the first modern action movie. While it wasn't the first movie to use such tropes as dramatic slow motion or a reluctant hero—Kurosawa himself had been influenced by the films of John Ford—it was the first to bring them together in such a way that would be instantly recognizable and familiar to the present-day audience.

This film — very frequently appearing in Top Ten of All Time lists — is a Trope Maker or early example for many tropes.


Seven Samurai provides examples of the following tropes:

  • Alliterative Name: Heihachi Hayashida.
  • Alliterative Title: Seven Samurai / Shichinin no Samurai.
  • All Women Are Lustful: It's Shino that's trying to cajole Katsushiro into consummating their affair, rather than the reverse.
  • And Your Reward Is Edible: The peasants can offer nothing more than food to the samurai they hire to defend them from bandits. Even this paltry reward means that the peasants don't have enough rice for themselves and must subsist on millet.
  • Annoying Arrows: Inverted. Not many people are shot with arrows, but it's an instant death one-hit kill.
  • Anyone Can Die: Four of the seven, and even the comic relief.
  • Aren't You Going to Ravish Me?: "Coward! Act like a samurai!" Shino clearly expects violent behavior from samurai, and her first attempt to seduce Katsushiro comes across like she's trying to convince him to rape her (it's also clear that she's nearly as afraid as she is eager). Katsushiro, who's behaving like a young man usually does with a girl he likes, is confused and put off.
  • Artistic Licence – History: Played with both ways. The film portrays the main samurai of the cast as men of courage and integrity, but also acknowledges that the majority of samurai were brutal thugs who used their higher social position to oppress the weak. Kurosawa said he did this because he's descended from a samurai family, and wanted in some way to apologize for his ancestor's actions. While the Japanese regard this film as a classic, many were upset at this particular deconstruction.
  • Attack! Attack! Attack!: The bandits fight to the last man without ever considering that there might be easier places to rob. The final bandit, hiding with the women, still sees fit to shoot at the samurai and betray his position rather than simply flee. This is partially explained by the bandit leader executing a couple of men who try to flee. Most likely, raiding this village was the only way to keep forty bandits fed.note 
  • Author Tract: Kurosawa presents a critical view of the class system of feudal Japan, most notably through Kikuchiyo.
  • Avengers, Assemble!: If not the first movie to detail a recruitment of heroes to fight for a cause, it's definitely the one to codify it.
  • Awesome by Analysis:
    • Gorobei only needs to take one look at the footprints outside the (seemingly) empty house to realize there are more people in the house, and being so empty means that someone is probably standing behind the door, and thus waiting to hit him. He instantly calls Kambei out on it.
    • During the duel between Kyuzo and the unnamed ronin, Kambei mutters that it's obvious who would win, even though the duellists came to a draw before. It is another indication to the audience that Kambei is not just strategist who relies on sneaky tricks, and is actually a legitimate fighter.
  • Awesome McCoolname: Gorobei lampshades this by explaining that despite his name, he isn't really that tough.
  • Badass Adorable: Shichiroji is short, chubby, jovial and can skewer you like a fish with his Blade on a Stick.
  • Badass Boast: During the final battle, Kikuychio gathers a cluster of swords because he won't be able to kill enough bandits with just one.
  • Badass Mustache: Kambei. Aw yeeah.'
  • Bad Habits: In Kambei's introductory scene, he rescues a child from a hostage situation by cutting off his topknot and having monks shave his head and lend him some robes. In this disguise, he appears at the door with food for the criminal and the child. When the hostage-taker lowers his guard to take the food, Kambei rushes in, kills the man, and saves the child.
  • Bald of Awesome: Again, Kambei is an old, badass samurai, and he has not one hair on his head. Inverted in-story, as Kambei shaves his head early on to impersonate a monk in his Establishing Character Moment, something no honorable (read: proud) samurai would do.
  • Batman Cold Open: One of the earliest examples of this trope in Kambei's introduction — rescuing a peasant boy taken hostage. This serves as his Establishing Character Moment.
  • Battle in the Rain: Arguably the Trope Maker for film.
  • Berserk Button:
    • Rikichi does not want to discuss his wife or his marriage. It's because his village traded his wife along with grain and horses for safety from the bandits when they attacked the village last time.
    • Kikuchiyo will flip out spectacularly if commoners are being endangered.
    • Manzo is absolutely paranoid that his daughter, Shino, will be seduced by a samurai: he hacks off her hair, orders her to pretend to be a boy and beats her when he discovers that she'd slept with Katsushiro.
  • Beware the Nice Ones: Shichiroji is a friendly, pleasant guy, but he absolutely loses it when Kikuchiyo brings in stolen armour that Manzo had been hiding in his house, tackles Kikuchiyo and lashes out on the farmers who brought the armour by hurling a spear in their direction.
  • BFS: Kikuchiyo's nodachi is almost as big as he is.
  • The Big Guy: Kyuzo and Kikuchiyo are different types: Kyuzo is the silent, highly skilled 'pro' and Kikuchiyo is the Boisterous Bruiser.
  • Bittersweet Ending: The village and its people are saved. But four of the samurai are dead, and Katsushirou probably cannot remain with Shino. Kambei, reviewing the scene of their victory, sadly remarks "In the end, we lost this battle too. I mean, the victory belongs to the peasants, not to us."
  • Blessed with Suck: Being samurai may put you in the top rank of society, but that doesn't mean much when you're broke. The virtues samurai have sworn to uphold also limit their lifestyle choices, like their choice of employment or spouse.
  • Blood Knight: Kyuzo to test his warrior skills; Kikuchiyo because he wants revenge.
  • Bloodless Carnage: Many people die, but you won't see a drop of blood or physical wounds of any kind. The fast editing during the battles makes this somewhat easier to hide. This was 1954 after all.
  • Blue Blood: The samurai, naturally. Most notable with the rich but inexperienced Katsushiro, and least with the naturally humble Heihachi. And it doesn't apply to Kikuchiyo no matter how many fourteen-year-olds he impersonates.
  • Boisterous Bruiser: Kikuchiyo, the farmer's son turned would-be samurai. Double points by being played by Toshiro Mifune, of all people.
  • Boomerang Bigot: Kikuchiyo hates farmers. It turns out he's a farmer's son.
  • Bottomless Magazines: A downplayed case, as guns of the period could only hold one bullet at a time, yet we hear two shots in quick succession after the bandits only have one gun left.
  • Break the Cutie: Katsushiro starts off as a sheltered young man wanting to prove himself and seeking glory. The events of the movie introduce him to the consequences of a forbidden love affair and the horrors of battle. By the end he seems a much more conflicted, ambivalent young man.
  • Bring Help Back: A couple of farmers go to a city in order to enlist help from masterless samurai. Because they have nothing but food to purchase help with, the elder advises them to find "hungry samurai."
  • Butt-Monkey: Subverted with Kikuchiyo. The other samurai mock him repeatedly, arguably Heihachi most of all, but eventually accept him as a teammate. Kikuchiyo performs heroically during the final attack and even earns a samurai's death.
  • Central Theme: Who has it better, the peasants who live normal but undistinguished lives or the warriors who live exciting but violent lives?
  • Character Tics: Kikuchiyo has a habit of scratching parts of his body, something Tajomaru before him and Sanjuro after him have in common. Kambei has a tendency to rub his shaven head a lot, which counts as a Thinking Tic.
  • Combat Pragmatist: Kambei shaves his head within his first scene (to samurai, this was a symbol of shame) so he can trick a bandit into thinking he is a monk and save a child. Heihachi mentions how he usually runs away from battle when he's about to die. Other samurai mention less-than-noble (from the standpoint of a samurai) tactics used for survival. The film takes place before the Edo period, when samurai really took Honor Before Reason seriously.
  • Cool Old Guy: Kambei, although the village elder deserves mention.
  • Death Wail: Katushiro sobs openly at all the carnage after the final battle. He can't even avenge his friends because they wiped out the one who killed them.
  • Debut Queue: We meet the Samurai one at a time as they assemble the team.
  • Deconstruction: These are not the flawless samurai of poems and legends. They are real, flawed people.
    • In Real Life, being a samurai sucked. They weren't allowed to change jobs to earn money. They could only rely on their martial prowess to make a living. And the possibility of death is very high.
      • The Honor Before Reason trope is symbolically called out during the opening, where Kambei does not hesitate to shame himself by shaving his head, since it saves a boy's life. Peasants are also shown to have their own virtues that the samurai openly envy.
    • The final decisive battle is quick and the opposite of grand. Before you know it the bandits are all dead and two of the five remaining samurai have fallen in battle. The entire thing is played as realistically as possible, from beginning to end.
  • Decoy Protagonist: Played with. For the first thirty minutes, the film follows four peasants tasked with hiring samurai. Once they recruit Kambei, the story focuses mainly on the samurai.
  • Defiled Forever: Shino's father Manzo loses his mind after finding out she slept with Katsushiro.
  • Determinator:
    • Kikuchiyo. Even after getting shot, he walks slowly towards the bandit leader and runs him through before dying.
    • He infiltrates the bandit gang and goes to get one of the arquebuses from the bandit guardsman.
    • A woman manages to carry her child from a burning house even after being stabbed in the back and promptly dies at the feet of the astonished samurai. Kambei remarks, "Such willpower!"
  • Don't Make Me Destroy You: Kyuzou doesn't like killing people; he's also considered one of the finest swordsmen around. This is seen early in the movie when he is shown dueling; he begs his opponent not to challenge him with real swords, because the opponent would quite certainly die. He does.
  • Do with Him as You Will: Kikuchiyo and Kyuzou capture a bandit and immediately have to protect him from the (justifiably) murderous villagers. However, when they are approached by the oldest woman of the town, who lost every member of her family to bandits and has since been almost unwilling to continue living, they quietly step aside and allow her her vengeance.
  • Dream Team: The main team consist of some of the best samurai around, plus two rookies.
  • Dressing as the Enemy: Kikuchiyo sees a quick opportunity to grab one of the muskets by quickly plundering a fallen bandit's gear, then walking right up to the musketeer and talking to him. The musketeer eventually realizes no bandit would carry a 5 1/2 foot nodachi. It doesn't save him. And unfortunately, this gets Gorobei and Yohei killed in the ensuing attack.
  • Double Entendre: Kikuchiyo to the musketeer bandit: Don't worry. All your troubles are soon over. Kikuchiyo beheads him with his BFS.
  • Driven to Suicide: Rikichi's wife.
  • Dwindling Party: Four of the seven samurai are bumped off throughout the story, starting fairly early.
  • End of an Age: The samurai who die are killed by firearms.
  • Enthusiasm vs. Stoicism: Goes all the way from Kyūzō who probably has icewater in his veins over to Kikuchiyo, who's a hop and a skip away from being stark raving loony.
  • Ensign Newbie: Katsushirou.
  • Establishing Character Moment: All of the seven get one.
    • Kambei's moment, in which he shaves his head to impersonate a monk, shows how he doesn't place much stock in honor or ego if an innocent life is on the line. He rubs his bald head throughout the film to remind the audience of it.
    • Kikuchiyo is quickly established as a ruffian and buffoon, who shows up completely wasted in his attempt to join the team of samurai and tries to pass himself off as one of them with a scroll he stole, but he gets his moment later on, when he uses a simple false alarm to bring the samurai and the farmer militia together.
    • Katsushiro seems like a simple starry-eyed novice; his Wealthy Philanthropist moment comes when the peasants' rice (their intended pay to the samurai, and rations for the trip home) is stolen, and he donates enough money to cover their costs.
    • Gorobei takes one look at a Schmuck Bait doorway, and immediately deduces what's going on. Kambei is impressed.
    • Kyouzo's moment comes when his unnamed dueling opponent demands a rematch with real swords. In one line he shows utter confidence, compassion, and a certain lack of diplomacy: "No use. You'd die."
    • Heihachi, who is found woodchopping, admits with cheerful honesty that he's not very good as a warrior. Yet he still agrees to join the mission.
    • Shichiroji is an old war buddy of Kambei's. He's asked to join this nearly suicidal fight simply to fight alongside his friend once more, and he can't say yes fast enough.
  • Epic Movie:
    • This cost about $500,000 and a year to produce. Most films at the time took 1 month to film and cost $70,000! The combined production of this movie and Gojira (budgeted at an estimated $1,000,000) nearly drove Toho into bankruptcy.
    • Some cuts of this film are rather long. For example, the DVD version released by the British Film Institute describes itself as "the most complete version of the film available," and lasts three hours ten minutes.
  • Everyone Meets Everyone: This is how the samurai are introduced.
  • Eyepatch of Power: The bandit leader sports one.
  • Fake Weakness: Kambei says, "A good fort needs a gap. The enemy must be lured in. So we can attack them. If we only defend, we lose the war."
  • Fanservice: Toshiro Mifune spends most of the movie wearing very little, so the viewer gets to look at his strapping, muscular body.
  • Field of Blades: Kikuchiyo invokes this by planting five swords around for the final battle. If one breaks, he wants back-ups nearby. He goes through all of them.
  • Fluffy the Terrible: Kikuchiyo is named after the fake papers he has to "prove" he's of noble birth. Unbeknown to him and to the amusement of the others, Kikuchiyo is the name of a little girl. He still kicks lots of ass.
  • Foregone Conclusion: Kyuzo had no objection to duelling a random stranger with bamboo sticks. When his angry opponent insists on a rematch with real swords, he doesn't mince words.
    Kyuzo: No. You'll die.
  • The Gadfly:
    • Heihachi is a joker and a clown who likes to tease people sometimes. He's particularly fond of picking on Kikuchiyo. He is the one who coined "Kikuchiyo" as the samurai wannabe's new permanent name, as a reminder of the drunken scene that the man made the night before the samurai left for the village.
    • Shichiroji has a little too much fun mocking Manzo after he learns that he disguised his daughter Shino as a boy.
  • Gallows Humor: What Shichiroji tells Kambei after their battle is over.
    " Looks like we've survived again"
  • Gender-Blender Name: Kikuchiyo is actually a girl's name. (Actually two girls' names in one). It helps that the drunken, illiterate, then-nameless wannabe samurai picked out his name at random.
  • Get A Hold Of Yourself Man: Kikuchiyo when Rikichi breaks down crying at Heihachi's funeral.
  • Gory Discretion Shot: The bandit whom Kyuzo and Kikuchiyo capture is savagely gored offscreen by the farmers while begging for his life. The only thing we see is the samurai walking away.
  • Guns vs. Swords: The samurai fear the bandit's arquebusers more than any other threat, and with good reason - more of their number die from bullet wounds than any other cause.
  • Hand Gagging: Heihachi does this to Kikuchiyo when Kikuchiyo blows his team's cover.
  • Haven't You Seen X Before?: When Gorobei recruits Heihachi chopping wood:
    Heihachi: Haven't you ever seen anyone cut firewood before?
  • The Heart:
    • Heihachi is the jokester of the team, and specifically brought in to raise morale despite being 'average' in skill (but still better than Kikuchiyo). He's the first to die.
    • Kikuchiyo evolves into the new conscience of the team, though. He's the one who builds a moral connection between the farmers and samurai, and it's that connection that's lost when he is killed in battle.
  • Heroic BSoD:
    • Kikuchiyo suffers from this after his glory seeking results in the deaths of one of the samurai and many of the villagers, particularly his bumbling assistant Yohei.
    • Katsushiro as well at the end of the battle when Kyuzo is killed.
  • Honor Before Reason: Rikichi's wife does not care about the fire at the bandit camp that she is in. She is so ashamed over what happened to her she runs right back into the flames when she sees Rikichi trying to rescue her.
  • Hot-Blooded: Kikuchiyo is a loud and boisterous glory seeker.
  • Hypocritical Humor: At one point Katsushiro is lazily picking flowers in the mountains when he happens across a young woman dressed as a boy (Shino), also picking flowers. He angrily tells her that an able-bodied young man should not be picking flowers at a time like this... emphasizing his point by gesturing with the flower he's just picked.
  • Important Haircut:
    • Kambei cuts his hair (a sign of his samurai status) in his first scene to rescue a child hostage, proving he cares more about life than personal dignity.
    • Manzo, worried about womanizing samurai coming to town, tries to cut his daughter Shino's hair and disguise her as a boy. It doesn't work. Good news is, the just-as-innocent Katsushiro is the one who finds Shino and begins a humorously sweet courtship with her.
  • Inopportune Voice Cracking: Kikuchiyo's voice cracks when he screams at the peasants to stop crying at Heihachi's funeral.
  • Intermission: It was a long movie: an intermission occurs once the samurai and villagers have begun to train, and cuts away to reveal that harvest time has arrived.
  • Jack-of-All-Stats: The samurai have their own specialities, but Kambei is pretty good in all those fields as well. He's a damn fine swordsman, but Kyuzo is the best fighter; he looks at morale from the big picture while Shichiroji is good at personally motivating the men; he's good with a bow, but Gorobei is the designated archer; and while he's a great tactician and strategist, Kikuchiyo is the The Social Expert, and the true conscience to remind the samurai what they're truly fighting for.
  • Jerk with a Heart of Gold:
    • Kikuchiyo may be abrasive and loud, but he's deeply empathetic towards the farmers' plight and gets very emotional when he feels that they have been done injustice in some way.
    • Heihachi is a mild-mannered, well-intentioned man whose remarks are either made at Kikuchiyo's expense or unintentionally provoke a Dude, Not Funny! reaction.
  • Katanas Are Just Better: Averted, as there's little they can do against muskets at range. The peasants also use long spears against the sword-wielding bandits.
  • Kid Samurai: Katsushiro is the youngest of the seven and only beginning the samurai way.
  • Knight Errant: The samurai fit this to a T.
  • Knight in Shining Armor: Subverted. The samurai are enraged when they discover that the villagers whom they are defending have in the past sometimes killed samurai escaping from battles and stripped them of their armor and weapons. As the other samurai begin muttering about how they'd like to slaughter the entire village, Kikuchiyo (who was born a commoner) angrily reminds them that it was living under samurai rule that forced the villagers to live like that in the first place. This case of Writer on Board is widely held to be an apology by Kurosawa, who was from a family with samurai heritage.
  • Leitmotif: Kikuchiyo and Shino both have their own theme music.
  • Large Ham: Kikuchiyo again. His presence is bigger than the other six put together.
  • Last Breath Bullet: At the climax, all but two of the bandits are dead, and while the remaining samurai are trying to ascertain if there are any left, the Big Bad manages to shoot and kill two of the remaining heroes before being killed himself.
  • Line-of-Sight Name: Kikuchiyo got his name from a scroll he mysteriously happened to have with him that clearly wasn't his, and pointed to his name at random.
  • Lost in Translation: Some of the lines and jokes are lost through translating them into subtitles (Dutch, for instance), such as the joke that Kikuchijo's lineage not only would mean that he's 13 years old, but also that he would be a girl.
  • The Magnificent Seven Samurai: Trope Maker. 'Seven warriors defend a village from bandits' has become a template used in many places.
  • Manipulative Editing:
    • How Kyuzou is shown to be such a great swordsman. The actor was terrible at it, but clever editing made him look awesome.
    • Kyuzo's actor also had no experience with riding horses. Toshiro Mifune, on the other hand, was a legitimately skilled swordsman and horse rider. In the scene where the samurai ride to scout out the bandit camp, Kikuchiyo was intentionally staged as an idiot with his horse to disguise the other actor's lack of skill.
    • Also when the villagers try to execute the captured bandit, the samurai are holding back the entire crowd. Realistically, there was no possible way the samurai could keep the entire mob away from the captive, but careful close-ups and choreography made it look realistic.
  • Master Swordsman: Kyūzō is the best example. Kambei certainly counts as well.
  • Mobile Shrubbery: Manzo disguises himself among the tall grass when he hears the bandits approaching at the beginning.
  • Mood Whiplash: The first samurai's burial scene goes through no fewer than four intense emotions in less than 30 seconds.
  • Mook Depletion: The eponymous samurai learn approximately 40 bandits will attack the town they are defending come harvest time. They spend time training the villagers, staging raids on sleeping bandits, creating fortifications and traps, picking off the problematic bandits with muskets (the bandits have muskets, making them very dangerous to the samurai), and so on in order to deplete the bandits. Kambei, the oldest and wisest of the samurai, even says "We must reduce them," in the English subtitles.
  • Must Not Die a Virgin: Katsushiro and Shino realize it's now or never.
  • Mutual Kill: Kikuchiyo and the bandit leader kill each other.
  • My God, What Have I Done?: Kikuchiyo has this reaction when his decision to leave his post for a commando raid on the bandit camp ends up getting several people, including Gorobei and Yohei killed in the ensuing counterattack.
  • Nice Job Breaking It, Hero!:
    • Kikuchiyo's decision to leave his post has disastrous results, leading to a My God, What Have I Done? reaction.
    • When Rikichi tries to go into the bandits' burning camp to try and save his wife, Heihachi is killed dragging him to safety. Rikichi understandably feels terrible about it afterwards.
  • No Indoor Voice: Kikuchiyo. Never is this more clear than when the 7 visit an old lady. Heihachi even asks him, "Why the hell are you always screaming?"
  • No Name Given: "Kikuchiyo" is only a name that the man picked out and random and the name stuck.
  • No Respect Guy: Kikuchiyo is a bumbling wannabe samurai who is a complete laughing stock of his companions, especially Heihachi. No matter what he tries, he looks like an idiot in front of everyone. Though he does earn a little bit of respect once in a while and after he dies, he is buried with his sword like the other three samurai casualties.
  • Non-Indicative Name: The seven heroes are composed of six ronin and a peasant.
  • Not So Stoic: When it is revealed the villagers scavenged weapons and armor off dead/dying samurai, the stoic Kyuzo is the first to say that he wants to avenge them by killing the villagers.
  • Number Two: Shichuroji is a born second-in-command.
  • Obfuscating Stupidity: While Kikuchiyo is blundering and awkward, and makes some fatally stupid mistakes throughout the film, he's surprisingly insightful towards the class differences between the farmers and samurai, and helps both parties to sort them out.
  • One-Hit Kill: Kyūzō has a Single-Stroke Battle. There are also several cases where swords, spears, arrows, and (particularly) bullets are immediately lethal.
  • Only Known by Their Nickname: "Kikuchiyo" has forgotten his own name and, being illiterate, initially pretends to be the last name on the parchment he stole… which is the 13-year-old daughter of a noble family. Heihachi and the other samurai mockingly start calling him by that name, and it sticks after Heihachi's death.
  • The Outside World: The peasant village is isolated by geography - peasants have to stay near their crops - except for when wars pass back and forth. It is the center of the whole movie and everyone else is exotic and somewhat scary to them.
  • Pet the Dog: While Kikuchiyo's default personality is screaming derision, this makes him popular with the village's children.
  • Plucky Comic Relief:
    • Heihachi Hayashida, who lacks skill, is recruited in hopes he can be this during adversity. However he is the first one killed before the big battle.
    • Kikuchiyo serves as this due to his role as the Butt-Monkey through most of the film.
    • Yohei, the duck-footed, bumbling little old man, plays the role well - before suddenly becoming a Sacrificial Lion.
  • Poverty Food: The peasants must eat millet because they're giving all their rice to their samurai.
  • Pyrrhic Victory: The samurai succeed. But it's debatable whether they won...
    Kambei: So, again we are defeated. The farmers have won. Not us.
  • The Quiet One: Kyūzō rarely says a word, and when he must, he only uses a few.
  • Rape, Pillage, and Burn: Samurai as a whole have done a lot of this. It's why the peasants have turned against them.
  • Rated M for Manly: A movie about Samurai fighting bandits and one of them romances a local girl.
  • A Real Man Is a Killer: Katsushiro spends most of the movie as Kambei's attendant and messenger and not allowed to participate in battle (even Kikuchiyo is allowed to fight). By the eve of the final battle, he sleeps with Shiro, and the next day, Kambei lets him fight and he kills his first man. Neither fills him with the sense of manhood that he had expected.
  • "The Reason You Suck" Speech: In possibly the most emotionally-charged scene of the movie, Kikuchiyo delivers one to the farmers, then turns around and delivers an equally scathing one to the samurai, setting up The Reveal.
  • Redemption Equals Death: Kikuchiyo abandons his contingent of farmers, leading to Yohei's and Gorobei's deaths. He makes up for it during the Final Battle by rescuing the village women and killing the bandits' leader, before dying of a gunshot wound inflicted by said leader.
  • The Reveal:
    • Kikuchiyo is revealed to be a common-born farmer's son. This explains his reactions to the villagers, lack of training, and his unwitting assumption of a child's name. A thirteen-year-old girl's, no less
    • The villagers either scavenged weapons and armor from dead samurai, or killed samurai and stripped them of their belongings.
  • Rōnin: The "seven samurai" are ronin, samurai with no master, and Kikuchiyo's technically a peasant.
  • Rule of Three: The doorway gag in the village. Specifically, the peasants invite various samurai to Kambei's inn room to 'discuss' the job, and Katsushiro's hiding just inside the door ready to hit them with a stick (to test their skills). The first applicant is so fast that he actually dodges the blow and disarms Katsushiro... but he isn't willing to stay. The second (Gorobei) stops in front of the doorway, looks through at Kambei, and says with a smile, "Please! No pranks." The third applicant is a drunk Kikuchiyo, who gets whacked.
  • The Runt at the End: Katsuhiro tagging along with the much older samurai. Of course, Kikuchiyo is the real odd one out of that group.
  • Samurai: Technically, they're Rōnin because they have no master, but all seven are still striving to follow bushido.
  • Samurai Ponytail: All seven feature the short-and-straight version, except Kikuchiyo, who has a short-and-messy version. Kambei's hair, sadly, is sacrificed to a greater goal.
  • Satellite Character: Out of all the Samurai, Shichiroji gets the least to do.
  • Scenery Porn: It is Kurosawa, after all. Only natural lighting and quite minimalistic.
  • Schmuck Bait: Kambei leaves a gap in the village's defences to allow the bandits a way into the village, which the villagers can then close off after 1 or 2 bandits enter and pick them off. Despite seeing the fortifications, being totally outnumbered, and knowing that the villagers have been trained to fight them, the bandits still rush the gap and get slaughtered.
  • Screaming Warrior:
    • Kikuchiyo, going with his boisterous personality.
    • The warrior sparring with Kyuzo, when Kyuzo is first introduced.
  • Shoo Out the Clowns: Comic relief villager Yohei is killed shortly before the final battle.
  • Shout-Out:
    • The bandit leader and his lieutenant wear headgear that makes them look like Date Masamune. One of them even has an eyepatch.
    • Kambei's introduction is a shout-out to Wyatt Earp beating up an armed drunk in My Darling Clementine.
  • The Siege: One happens to the village. This one is over very quickly.
  • Single-Stroke Battle:
    • Early in the film, Kyūzō is seen holding a duel with another swordsman. They face off, neither moving for some time - then there is a sudden charge, Kyūzō swings, his opponent falls to the ground, dead. It's possibly the most famous SSB in film history. Some argue that it is the Trope Codifier, if not Trope Maker, for SSB.
    • Later in the movie, Kambei does this as well, but against horsemen. He wins.
  • Slow-Motion Fall: A pioneering example is used when Kyuzo kills his opponent in a duel.
  • Star-Crossed Lovers: Either Katsushiro and Shino or Katsushiro and Kyūzō, depending on your interpretation. Also possible is all three.
  • The Stoic: Kyūzō has an unshakeable composure, although he's seen smiling and laughing with the others, usually when there's a joke at Kikuchiyo's expense. During his first battle, while his opponent fidgets nervously and moves back and forth, Kyūzō barely moves at all, and when he does, it's calmly and with confidence.
  • Taking You with Me: Kikuchiyo kills the bandit leader before dying of a fatal gunshot wound.
  • The Team Wannabe: Katsushiro and Kikuchiyo approach this trope from opposite directions; the former is a child that wants to be a samurai while the latter is an adult peasant that pretends to be a samurai.
  • Team Title: Sort of. The film is about seven samurai who protect a village from bandits.
  • Technician vs. Performer: Kyūzō and Kikuchiyo are the extremes respectively of this trope in terms of samurai; the former is a quiet perfectionist who practices his art for the sheer love of it - while the latter is a natural talent who loudly mocks his foes and basks in the glory of victory.
  • Thanks for the Mammaries: Played for drama. Katsushiro realizes that Shino is a girl when he accidentally feels her breast.
  • Theme Naming: With the exception of Kambei all samurai have numbers in their names. Katsushiro: 4, Gorobei: 5, Shichiroji: 7, Heihachi: 8, Kyūzō: 9 (the kanji is different but the pronunciation is the same), Kikuchiyo: 1000. Probably intentional, but leaves one wondering why Kambei is an exception.
  • These Hands Have Killed: Yohei is in shock after spearing a bandit. Katsushiro has the same reaction after running another through.
  • Throwing Your Sword Always Works: Played with. Kyūzō does this, but only to show the others where his attackers are hiding before he dies.
  • There Is No Kill Like Overkill: Kikuchiyo prepares for the last battle by stabbing several swords into the ground. "I can't kill enough with just one sword!" After his signature nodachi breaks, he starts to use his spare swords until only two remain.
  • Took a Level in Badass: All the villagers, really, who greet the news of the bandits by literally hanging their heads in despair, but who under the samurai become a disciplined fighting force and successfully defend the village. However, Yohei stands out. After spending most of the movie vacillating between Lovable Coward and plain old coward—he advocates surrendering to the bandits, he wants to go home when the rice is stolen, he looks so ridiculous with a spear that everyone bursts out laughing—he stands his ground, kills one of the bandits, and dies during the final battle.
    Yohei: (last words) I defended my post.
  • Training the Peaceful Villagers: The Trope Maker. The saumrai rely heavily on using the peasants to Zerg Rush small groups of bandits and stab them with spears.
  • Translation: "Yes": One of the peasants expresses his uncertainty about what Kambei is planning with a fairly long sentence. The subtitle boils it down to, "I'm confused."
  • Traumatic Haircut: Manzo cuts his daughter's hair to disguise her as boy to protect her from the samurai.
  • Unbuilt Trope: This movie subverts or deconstructs many tropes, but only because they hadn't become tropes yet. For instance, the villagers aren't utterly helpless - they simply need leaders. The seven samurai aren't invincible warriors just because they're Samurai. The bandits are murderous thieves, but not faceless Mooks - they're shown relaxing, complaining, weeping in terror as they run for their lives... And, of course, since the Gory Discretion Shot hadn't been invented yet, it isn't subverted. War Is Glorious, on the other hand, is a trope that did exist, and the movie subverted that pretty thoroughly.
  • Untrusting Community: Some villagers think the samurai will just rob them, then leave and let the bandits have whatever's left.
  • Uptown Girl: Gender-inverted: Katsushiro and Shino probably can't be together because she is a peasant.
  • Victorious Loser: Inverted. The samurai may have won the battle and their reason for going to the village, but don't gain anything for themselves. As Kambei points out the townspeople are prospering and planting while singing and nothing but cold graves or hunger and the road await the samurai. Saved from being a Downer Ending by Kambei's wise outlook and the amazing heroism of the seven.
  • War Is Hell: There is no glorious charge, no clever one-liners, no climactic swordfight. There is mud, and blood, and the squeals of men impaled on spears. And the corpses of friends.
  • Warrior Poet: Kyūzō, the most skilled samurai of the group, sits studying a wildflower while he waits to ambush some of the bandits.
  • Weapon of Choice: Each samurai carries a katana, but some have personal weapons for their work, especially in the final battles.
    • Kikuchiyo carries a nodachi.
    • Gorobei has a bow.
    • Shichiroji uses a spear.
  • Weapon Tombstone: The graves of the four fallen samurai are marked with their own swords. Yohei's is marked with his spear.
  • We Help the Helpless: The film gives a somewhat ambivalent and often cynical treatment of this.
  • Wham Shot: When Kikuchiyo is training the farmers, they all have simple bamboo spears... except for Yohei who seemingly grabbed a proper spear out of nowhere.
  • When It Rains, It Pours: Used quite effectively during the final battle.
  • Wipe: Used many, many times by Kurosawa to transition from scene to scene.
  • With Friends Like These...: Kikuchiyo and Heihachi frequently bicker and argue throughout the entire first act. Although after Heihachi accidentally offends Rikichi, he discusses the incident with Kikuchiyo and the two agree on something for once.
  • The Women Are Safe with Us: Manzo is so terrified that his daughter will be raped by the Samurai that he cuts off her hair to disguise her as a boy.
  • Writer on Board: Kikuchiyo, a farmer's son, not a samurai, dissuades the other samurai from blaming the villagers for killing and stealing from samurai in the past; after all, it was samurai rule that had forced them to live that way. This is widely seen as Akira Kurosawa apologizing; he came from a family with samurai ancestors.
  • You Are Already Dead: The guy who challenged Kyuzo to a duel first with sticks, then with swords. Kikuchiyo's death could also qualify.

Alternative Title(s): The Seven Samurai


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