FILM 1373: SEVEN SAMURAI
TRIVIA: Akira Kurosawa's original idea for the film was to make it about a day in the life of a samurai, beginning with him rising from bed and ending with him making some mistake that required him to kill himself to save face. Despite a good deal of research, he did not feel he had enough solid factual information to make the movie, but came across an anecdote about a village hiring samurai to protect them and decided to use that idea. Kurosawa wrote a complete dossier for each character with a speaking role. In it were details about what they wore, their favorite foods, their past history, their speaking habits and every other detail he could think of about them. No other Japanese director had ever done this before.
After months of research, all of the seven major characters in the film wound up being based on historical samurai.
First use of a scene which is now commonplace in cinema: The approaching horde coming into view as they crest a hilltop, specifically when Kikuchiyo sees the mounted bandits approaching.
This was the first film on which Akira Kurosawa used multiple cameras, so he wouldn't interrupt the flow of the scenes and could edit the film together as he pleased in post-production. He used the multiple camera set-up on every subsequent film.
The movie is set in 1586. We learn during the scroll scene that the real Kikuchiyo was born in year two of the Tensho era (1574) and is now 13 years old. Japanese convention considered a child to be one year old when he was born and advanced his age one year each new year.
Filming had to be stopped several times due to a shortage of horses for the final battle sequences.
The three writers, Akira Kurosawa, Shinobu Hashimoto and Hideo Oguni, wrote the final script over 45 days taking no phone calls or visitors, with few exceptions. The constant writing took a toll on their bodies and sickness was rampant in post-war Japan; at one time Kurosawa wound up in the hospital with roundworms.
The favorite film of producer George Lucas.
Director Trademark: Akira Kurosawa: [names] Kikuchiyo is a girl's name made up of two parts, like Betty Sue in America. That's why the samurai laugh so hard at the name. Obviously Toshirô Mifune's character is illiterate, and it's a very subtle thing that the other samurai choose to tease him about the age and not choosing a girl's name! Kiku translates to Chrysanthemum and Chiyo to one thousand generations. This is in fact one of several occasions in which Mifune's character in a Kurosawa film has a name composed of a plant and a number of years.