Seven Samurai turns 70: an interview with Pascal-Alex Vincent


Pascal-Alex Vincent is a filmmaker and lecturer at the Sorbonne-Nouvelle University. His documentary Satoshi Kon, l’illusionniste (Satoshi Kon: The Illusionist) was listed in the Cannes Classics selection in 2021. A specialist in Japanese cinema, he talks about Seven Samurai (1954), Akira Kurosawa’s masterpiece, which celebrates its 70th birthday this year. Restored in 4K by the legendary Tōhō studios, the film will be presented in the Cannes Classics selection with Shion Komatsu—from Tōhō—in attendance.

What, in your opinion, is the genius of Kurosawa’s film?

Akira Kurosawa’s films are powerful and they communicate. But when you look at his direction, you notice that, as a filmmaker, he is particularly centred on movement. The way in which his characters move and the dynamic editing of his films completely revolutionised action cinema.


What are the most notable adaptations of this film?

The most famous one remains The Magnificent Seven, a western shot by John Sturges in 1960, although I am very fond of the version released by Roger Corman in 1980, Battle Beyond the Stars, a science-fiction B-movie with a screenplay written by John Sayles and production design by James Cameron.


Tōhō Studios were tasked with restoring the film: can you tell us more about them?

Tōhō is the biggest major in the history of Japanese studios. It was behind most of Akira Kurosawa’s and Mikio Naruse’s masterpieces and, after the war, specialised in musicals and blockbusters. And, of course, it was Tōhō that gave birth to the atomic monster Godzilla! Today, as well as producing new hits, it distributes Studio Ghibli films and continues to make history in Japanese cinema.