Akira Kurosawa’s screenplay for ‘Seven Samurai’

Here’s another screenwriting gold: Akira Kurosawa, Shinobu Hashimoto & Hideo Oguni’s screenplay for Seven Samurai. Translated by Donald Richie [pdf]. (NOTE: For educational purposes only). Thanks to mypdfscripts’ Sheridan. The DVD/Blu-ray of the film is available at the Criterion Collection. Also, for your reading pleasure: Kurosawa on Kurosawa; The magnificent seven; Kurosawa: a retrospective, and other documents, courtesy of CineFiles. A Bitter Sweet Life’s Edwin Adrian Nieves invite you to explore the life and works of Akira Kurosawa with the Akira Kurosawa Digital Archive.

What is your favourite film?
Some people say it was Seven Samurai. It happened during the period I was extremely popular. However, it is not my personal favourite. To give birth to a work is to enlarge upon an idea which grows. It’s difficult to say which one of my films is my favourite. I’d like to say, all my films come to life at one stage or another. —Fred Marshall speaks with Akira Kurosawa

Akira Kurosawa possessed a masterful awareness of the filmmaking process, and those working close to him considered editing to be among his greatest talents. The renowned director even declared that he would shoot a film simply to edit, because for him editing was the foundation of a film and the most creative and interesting part of the process. The following words on editing and Phil Baumhardt’s Profiles in Editing: Akira Kurosawa exemplify the filmmaker’s profound understanding of ‘the invisible art’ while the latter closely studies Kurosawa’s editing style and techniques in Seven Samurai. —Akira Kurosawa and the Art of Editing

“Film editing involves putting on the finishing touches. More than this, it is a process of breathing life into the work.”

“The most important requirement for editing is objectivity. No matter how much difficulty you had in obtaining a particular shot, the audience will never know. If it is not interesting, it simply isn’t interesting. You may have been full of enthusiasm during the filming of a particular shot, but if that enthusiasm doesn’t show on the screen, you must be objective enough to cut it.”

“No matter how much work the director, the assistant director, the cameraman or the lightning techicians put into a film, the audience never knows. What is necessary is to show them something that is complete and has no excess. When you are shooting, of course, you film only what you believe is necessary. But very often you realize only after having shot it that you didn’t need it after all. You don’t need what you don’t need. Yet human nature wants to place value on things in direct proportion to the amount of labor that went into making them. In film editing, this natural inclination is the most dangerous of all attitudes. The art of the cinema has been called an art of time, but time used to no purpose cannot be called anything but wasted time.”

Movie Masterclass series was based on a format that I devised as Head of Direction at UK’s National Film & Television School. Initially it was called ‘Steenbeck Analysis’ because the film was put on a Steenbeck editing machine. In an 8-hour day we would scrutinise some 20 minutes of the film — it was a living entity, the more we examined it, the more it revealed. It was an exhilarating experience. Students couldn’t have enough of it. The analysis of Kurosawa’s SEVEN SAMURAI was the students’ favourite. Kurosawa Productions later bought the programme and it was aired on NHK TV. –Mamoun Hassan