KUROSAWA x ERIC KIM / Boy in bed of flowers
KUROSAWA x ERIC KIM / Boy in bed of flowers

Akira Kurosawa: the Japanese master of cinema who inspired some of the great film directors of today (like Steven Spielberg, Martin Scorsese, George Lucas).

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Seven Samurai (1954)

I remember when I was recommended Seven Samurai from my friend Kevin McKenzie, who started to watch all the top rated films on IMDb. I remember watching Seven Samurai, and my jaw dropping.

The characters were so real, relatable, and human. I felt the fullest range and gamut of human emotions.

The cinematography blew me away. I still remember screen shooting this scene, of the younger boy in the movie, lying in a bed of flowers.

Boy lying in bed of flowers in movie, Seven Samurai.
Boy lying in bed of flowers in movie, Seven Samurai.

Anyways, I saw this excellent YouTube video by Tony Zhou, analyzing Kurosawa films and his masterful use of movement.

I wanted to explore more of Akira Kurosawa. Consider this essay and analysis of his film, genius, and composition a work in progress.

Cinematography / Composition in Seven Samurai

1. Layered, and multiple subjects, and diagonals

First of all, see his compositions:

2. Low angle, heroic composition

Also note the spacing of the subjects, separation, and how their faces and heads all connect with the red line:

3. Boy in the flowers

Note the diagonal composition, the “golden rectangle” composition:

4. Covered nude girl

Her look of surprise being caught. Her hair on one side. Low angle, looking up. Relatively centered composition. Showing her hands, and bent elbows:

5. Look of rejection

The realization, “Oh shit.”

Also note the depth of the shot. Boy in foreground, and action happening left of the frame:

Download Photoshop PSD file to play with the layers: PSD: Boy looking dejected

6. A beautiful death

Probably one of the most emotional scenes in the film… sacrificing yourself for your brothers, sisters, community, and the greater good.

To me, this is a noble death.

7. Girl in the fields

Good example of “spot the not” composition technique, of having the girl look back, but everyone else hunched over, with no faces.

8. Layered faces and depth

Good shot of layers and depth, shot with a telephoto lens:

9. Layers, depth, and diagonals on hillside

See all the diagonals with the sword, the spacing of the samurai, and the sloping hills in the background:

Also note how their heads are connected, and the zig-zag pattern that holds them all together:

10. Telephoto shoot of samurai on cliff

Also see the spacing, and the strong effect of story telling through the body postures of the samurai:

11. Telephoto shot, multiple directions and depth

See the depth of all the samurai, and how they’re all looking in different directions, with different body language to show their emotions:


Trailer for Seven Samurai

Inspired by the stark, minimalist black and white trailer.

I also love the black and white Japanese kanji. The typography has movement, and the kanji looks like people. Nice symbols. I traced these on iPad and Procreate app: