Seven Samuraiis a film that was directed by Akira Kurosawa. The film is 141 minutes long; it was released in 1954. This film shows the events that happened in history and the effects that they had on Japanese society. This paper covers the depiction of 16th century in the film. The film reflects the nature of post 1945 Japan life. The themes and characters depicted the turbulent era of Sengoku. The film shows the pre-World War II of the Japan.
The film is set during the 16th century in Japan. The location is a small agricultural country in the said nation. This is the time of great suffering that was inflicted on the society through the civil wars, land taxes, forced labor, bandits, earthquakes, famine, and drought. All these factors are shown in film affecting the lives of villagers. The film shows a time of tremendous changes. In addition, there was the lack of governing power. However, the people in the village must redeem themselves. They have to bring dignity to themselves (Aakash 34). This has to be done by facing the challenges and fears. They have to learn how to govern themselves with personal responsibilities.
The period that the film takes place is called Sengoku Jidai or Warring Sates period. This period was around 15th to early 17th century. This is how it is known in Japan. The Seven Samurai takes place in the years 1587 to 1588. This was a transitional time for the Japan nation. This is the time the Japanese government in Kyoto had started decentralizing power. The power transferred to the social chaos that was being created (Taishikan 43). This was known as Daimyo. This social upheaval caused the citizens to reject the values and traditions that existed before the decentralization of power. They wanted the change by force. The theory of bottom conquering the top is known as Gekokuiyou in Japan.
The established trade with nations like China allowed for creation of markets and cities. In addition, there were several economic developments. The agricultural communities were involved in small scale trading apart from the traditional activities. The introduction of money and rise of commerce made life difficult for the communities. The farmers found it hard to maintain their traditional lifestyle. This was difficult considering that they had to pay land taxes. At the same time, there were raging warlords. Moreover, the natural disasters that were occurring frequently in Japan further added the problems . Life was becoming more difficult and unbearable.
The film tried to make people understand what was happening in Japan at the time. The film shows bandits raiding the village. They warn that they will come back during harvest time. This made the villagers discuss actions that they can take. They talked to the magistrate for help; some proposed to fight the bandits or to commit suicide so to prevent upcoming suffering and humiliation. This was because of the looming fear of starvation. The suggested actions were rejected by the village elders, who are old and are considered as wisest in the village (Ogawa 15). They suggest to hire a group of samurai for protection of the village. Some villagers questioned how the hiring was to be done, and the elders responded by giving an analogy of a bear that is hungry in a forest.
The film shows the samurai who agreed to protect the village. They agreed to work for shelter and modest food. The samurai were followed by an eager and young village man. Their arrival at the village was strange. The welcome was strange as the villagers became afraid of the hired protectors. Another man, who claimed to be a samurai, also joined the six. He was a farmer’s son. He was often drunk. He was accepted when he falsely rang the bandit alarm. This samurai became the seventh protector.
The samurai planned a defensive attack. They and the villagers constructed fences and flood fields that acted like barriers. The villagers were active and united in this effort. They were happy with the process. However, the bandits attacked the village and set it ablaze. Samurai allowed the bandits to enter the perimeter fence one by one. Then they trapped them and made them vulnerable. The remaining thirteen bandits were expected to strike the following morning (Daniel 62). There was a lot of desperation and determination at the same time. The fires that were blazing ceased when heavy rain started to fall. The bandits were defeated and the film shows the villagers singing under a sunny sky on the farm. The graves of the fallen samurai are shown at the background, and villagers are happy with their victory.
The Seven Samurai shows a scene of an old village woman. She is asked about her suffering and pain. She explains her fears by stating that the misery will follow her to the next life. Here, the film responds to the human qualities such as, misery, pain, and fear. This depicts the theme of humanism where ethical values are considered in making a decision. The villagers shown in the film, are challenging and difficult position. Their cultural and social issues are at stake, and they have to make a decision and, whether right and wrong, act according to the decision. Establishing morality and truth by human creates an element of dignity and worth of an individual.
Fear is one of the universal human qualities. It is one of the emotions that are innate in human beings. This gives a response to danger, threat, and distrust. Thus, fear becomes a survival mechanism. Fear can range from phobia or paranoia to caution and it invokes avoidance. In the Seven Samurai, fear is seen as terror. The villagers’ response to the social strain and upheaval was terrifying and irrational. This was a result of the terror where irrational behavior was exhibited because of the experience of personal danger (Anderson 21). In addition, the film shows physical aspects of fear. The additional suffering anticipation by the villagers is shown in the film. During the war, the seven samurai defend the village and draw the symbols to represent the bandits. This shows the overcoming of fear, or depletion.
In the village, there is political chaos, and there is no government. The villagers lead themselves as there is no one to instruct and protect them. The social influences in the Warring States Period illustrate the villager’s collective understanding of the despair, fear, and mass hysteria. The network that is in place is in a despairing state. The villagers’ action of acting by themselves sees the despair state lifted.
As the film begins, the villagers suggest killing themselves. This is a result of the raid by the bandits. However, the villagers decide to defend themselves. They do this despite their age and gender. The men, women, and children are all armed, and they use even the farming tools to arm themselves. The samurai sums it up by saying that they are facing a war that will either bring fame or money to the village. The same way the seventh samurai rang the false bandit alarm is the same way that the film director Kurosawa rings an alarm to the Japan people. This alarm was to show the irrational behavior of the villagers. The film Seven Samurai shows the irrational behavior that can be caused by fear. However, in dignity, villagers can overcome their fears. In addition, they can learn to protect and govern themselves.