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.
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
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:
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