The punctuation of Seven Samurai

The samurai journey to the village is a mosaic of tiny scenes where they are being followed by Mifune in a series of wipes, who wants to join them. When they reach the village, Mifune utters a prophetic and much mature remark- “Whew! what a dung pile. I’d certainly hate to die in a place like that.”

Kurosawa interlinks very short and funny scenes with wipes. Not just in Seven Samurai, he does so in Sanjuro as well. The cuts and pans of Seven Samurai are remarkable. Mifune’s scene with the armour is another example of Kurosawa’s fine editing. Mifune here directly acts into the camera. Also, each shot here is a bit shorter than the one went before. The tempo is accelerated by the cutting. The next to last and the last scenes are conventional one-two shots.

Another scene with remarkable cutting is the raid on the bandits’ fort. There is a broad downward pan here. First we see the mountain, then we see the road with three horsemen. The pan doesn’t stop here, as it moves downwards (and not sideways along with the horsemen), leaving the road behind. At the same time, as the road disappears at the top of the frame, a slow lateral left-to-right wipe begins. This is the waterfall scene and the samurais have reached their destination. The effect on the screen is- strangely- diagonal. This wipe shows continuity as well as passage of time.


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