Seven Samurai’s 4K restoration is headed to theaters


To celebrate its 70th anniversary, Akira Kurosawa’s black-and-white epic Seven Samurai is coming back to theaters with a new 4K restoration.

Arguably the crowning achievement of one of the world’s most lauded filmmakers, the film depicts a small village in the 16th century that is threatened by bandits. To protect themselves from the invaders, the farmers go in search of ronin — master-less samurai for hire — who can ward off the marauders and keep the village safe.

One of the film’s co-writers, Shinobu Hashimoto, found the process of putting together Seven Samurai so exhausting that he checked himself into a hospital. “I thought I’d never be able to write anything as good ever again,” he said. “On the other hand, I thought since writing it was so difficult, and I survived, I could write anything.”

It was also a tremendously expensive film, especially for the 1950s, with a budget estimated between $150,000 and $200,000 — far above the $70,000 average of Japanese films of that era. During filming, Kurosawa had to stop production after he realized he had run through his funding only a third of the way through the shoot. The entire shoot lasted nearly a year.

Still, Seven Samurai proved well worth it, becoming a box office success in Japan and, in the 70 years since its release, now considered one of the greatest films of all time.

The 4K restoration debuted at the Cannes Film Festival earlier this year. In New York, the movie opens at Film Forum on July 5th; in Los Angeles, the premiere will be on July 7th at the Egyptian Theatre, with an opening at Laemmle Royal to follow on July 12th.

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