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Seven Samurai (1954)

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NOTE: Both tracks are only available on the Criterion Collection 2006 3-disc DVD and 2010 Blu-ray releases. Previous Criterion DVD releases only contained the Michael Jeck track.

Commentaries on this disc:

Commentary 1: Japanese film expert Michael Jeck Rating:8.4/10 (48 votes) [graph]Login to vote or review
Reviewed by hokeyboy on June 5th, 2004:Find all reviews by hokeyboy
This is the single most informative and insightful look into what is perhaps the greatest movie ever made and one of the most gifted directors in the history of the medium.
Reviewed by scroll2b on December 7th, 2004:Find all reviews by scroll2b
Michael Jeck’s commentary for Akira Kurosawa’s Seven Samurai is one of the most intense and insightful dialogues for any director or film ever. Criterion hit a homerun when they hired this guy.

You'll probably need to rewind often or listen to it a few times to digest it all. Film students studying Kurosawa should look for this track first when doing a paper or presentation. A lot of his methods and continuing motifs are exhibited in this film, and Jeck informs everything on and off the screen.

A must listen for any true commentary fan.
Reviewed by tcconde on February 26th, 2005:Find all reviews by tcconde
I would just like to add my complete agreement with the two people above me. Michael Jeck is a genius. If there was anything left out of this commentary, I sure don't know what it would be. Criterion commentary are always very authoritative and interesting, but Jeck takes it to new heights. If there was any negative at all, it would be that it sounds very rehearsed, as though Jeck was teaching you and there would be a quiz later. But all in all, maybe the best ever.
Reviewed by exte on September 25th, 2005:Find all reviews by exte
I would just like to also add how amazing this commentary is. It's only befitting that Kurosawa receives such deluxe and intense treatment. After all, he's one of cinema greats... PERFECT!
Reviewed by win04017 on September 25th, 2006:Find all reviews by win04017
This is the best commentary I have heard yet. This commentary is a textbook on filmmaking. It gives great insight into the making of the movie, the framing and compositions that Kurosawa used, and other techniques employed by Kurosawa such as use of camera lenses, lighting, and weather. You will not learn more about a movie from the commentary more than this one. GO LISTEN NOW!!
Reviewed by The Cubist on October 3rd, 2006:Find all reviews by The Cubist
I agree with the above reviews and would like to add that Jeck dives right in analyzing the look of the film and how it informs what we are seeing. He also points out how the composition of certain shots illustrates Akira Kurosawa’s pity and contempt that he has for the villagers – something that he shares with Toshiro Mifune’s character. Jeck does a fantastic job dissecting this film without being too dry and academic about it, delivering a very accessible track.
Reviewed by zombking on January 17th, 2008:Find all reviews by zombking
Jeck's commentary stands as one of the major milestones of commentary history, and is by far one of the most fun and informative tracks out there. It is the track that set the standard, and for good reason; Jeck never stops giving great information about the film, and never does he deteriorate into talking about one of his own theories. Instead, it more closely resembles the "film school in a box" that Criterion (in its Laserdisc days) was aiming for.
Reviewed by DoctorSubmarine on August 17th, 2010:Find all reviews by DoctorSubmarine
Fascinating, insightful, and accessible.
Reviewed by grimjack on December 24th, 2019:Find all reviews by grimjack
I am not surprised this commentary has probably the most reviews of any commentary on this site. Normally a commentary track by a film scholar (rather than the makers of the film) come off as too informational, and not very personal. (Like reading the list off of IMDB trivia), but here the passion and love of the film really come through. Lots of details, lots of education, and even a greater appreciation of this classic is what you get from listening to it.
Commentary 2: Film scholars David Desser, Joan Mellen, Stephen Prince, Tony Rayns, and Donald Richie Rating:6.2/10 (13 votes) [graph]Login to vote or review
Reviewed by The Cubist on October 3rd, 2006:Find all reviews by The Cubist
The track starts off with a brief summary of Akira Kurosawa’s career at the time that he made the movie, the state of samurai cinema and the historical period in which the film is set. The participants all do a good job analyzing the filmmaker’s style and the film’s themes but it does get a little fawning at times (we know this film is a classic, we don’t need to be constantly reminded). That being said, this is still a very informative track.
Reviewed by zombking on September 13th, 2007:Find all reviews by zombking
While this is a concept, the first attempt at it seems to fall flat on its face in a hurry. Jeck's commentary looks all the better as each of these men and women drone on about whatever they happened to have written a paper on once, and the final forty minutes with our Joan Mellon make you wonder if she's actually watching the film with us or rather reading from her favorite essay on the sociology of Kurosawa's films. Unfortunately, she manages to drone over one of the best action sequences in history, only referring to the technical aspects maybe once or twice, spending the rest of the time making her own points that she has for so long waited to make.