Thematic analysis of Kurosawa's Sanshiro Sugata and Seven Samurai

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It is not difficult to speak of thematic dualities in Akira Kurosawa's Judo Saga (Sanshiro Sugata, 1943) and Seven Samurai (Scichinin no samurai, 1957), and upon inspection, a thematic presentation evolution is identifiable. This giant of the world cinematic community has inspired much discussion, much praise, yet little unified thematic analysis. This, however, seems strangely fitting, since Kurosawa himself is unwilling, and perhaps unable to define his thematic or stylistic intent any more than we the viewers …

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…we have lost. We lose. The farmers... they're the winners." Realizing his role, Kambei accepts that there is no end, only the means; the illusion of heroism has been broken by the reality of the loss they have endured, the empty triumph they have gained. Kurosawa closes with the dual images of the rice planting ceremony and the four graves of the samurai; life/death, heroism/humanism, all laid out in a juxtaposed, concrete portrait.