What’s the best movie ever made?

For some movie buffs, this Japanese flick is the greatest film of all time

what's the best movie ever made
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Like any other form of art, cinema is subjective. Films that are great to some, maybe mediocre to others, and that’s completely understandable. With the rise of streaming services, movies ― both old and new ― have become more accessible to people than ever, resulting in a more divided opinion on motion picture projects. While it’s impossible for the question “What’s the best movie ever made?” to have one single answer, we at GeekSpin think that Akira Kurosawa’s Seven Samurai is the greatest film of all time.

What’s the best movie ever made?

From a creative and technical standpoint, arguably no film has had a long-lasting impact on cinema as the 1954 epic samurai drama movie Seven Samurai.

Co-written, edited, and directed by Kurosawa, Seven Samurai is largely credited for popularizing the “assembling the team” trope in movies and other media, which has since become a common theme in many action movies and heist films.

Seven Samurai even spawned its own subgenre of “men-on-a-mission” films. Dubbed the Seven Samurai Formula, the narrative structure follows a team of disparate characters that are grouped to undertake a specific mission.

The formula has been widely adopted by several films, including The Dirty Dozen (1967), The Savage Seven (1968), Star Wars: Episode IV – A New Hope (1977), as well as newer movies like The Expendables (2010) and Avengers: Endgame (2019).

Seven Samurai synopsis

Set in 1586 during the Sengoku period of Japanese history, Seven Samurai centers on a samurai who answers a village’s request for protection after he falls on hard times. A large group of bandits is expected to steal the village’s crops after the harvest season, so the samurai gathers six others to help him teach the villagers how to defend themselves.

Seven Samurai cast

Seven Samurai starred Toshiro Mifune, Takashi Shimura, Daisuke Katō, Isao Kimura, Minoru Chiaki, Seiji Miyaguchi, and Yoshio Inaba as the titular characters.

Toshiro Mifune in Samurai Seven
What’s the best movie ever made? 1954’s Seven Samurai, starring Toshiro Mifune, is a great candidate for the title.

The village patriarch, referred to as Grandad, was played by Kokuten Kōdō, while the bandit chief was portrayed by Shinpei Takagi.

Mifune and Shimura were both nominated for Best Foreign Actor at the 1956 BAFTA Film Awards, with the latter winning Best Foreign Actor at 1959’s Jussi Awards. Miyaguchi was also named Best Supporting Actor at 1955’s Mainichi Film Awards.

Seven Samurai critical response

On Rotten Tomatoes, Seven Samurai holds a perfect approval rating of 100% based on 90 reviews, The website’s critical consensus called the film a “masterpiece,” thanks to its engrossing story, memorable characters, and stunning action sequences.

Since its release, Seven Samurai has consistently ranked highly in critics’ lists of greatest films. For instance, it was voted the greatest foreign-language film of all time in a 2018 BBC poll of 209 critics in 43 countries. The movie was also voted the second-best action film of all time in the 2019 Time Out poll and ranked at No. 7 on Time Out magazine’s list of The 100 Best Movies of All Time.

Seven Samurai box office

Within the first twelve months of its Japanese release, Seven Samurai earned a distribution rental income of $2.3 million, against a production budget of $580,000. It was Japan’s third highest-grossing film of 1954, out-grossing Godzilla.

Though the box office income for its 1956 North American original release is unknown, Seven Samurai grossed at least $833,533 in the U.S. after two re-releases in 2002.

Seven Samurai adaptations

Seven Samurai has been remade several times, and one of its most straightforward adaptations is John Sturges’ 1960 movie The Magnificent Seven. Sturges took Seven Samurai and adapted it to the Old West, with the samurai replaced by gunslingers.

Intended as a “Magnificent Seven in outer space,” Jimmy T. Murakami’s 1980 movie Battle Beyond the Stars was also based on the plots of The Magnificent Seven and Seven Samurai.

The plot of Seven Samurai was also re-worked for the 1983 Italian sword-and-sandal film, The Seven Magnificent Gladiators. Moreover, Seven Samurai was also the inspiration for the 2004 steampunk anime series Samurai 7.

Seven Samurai trailer

Below was the trailer dropped by the British Film Institute for the 2021 re-release of Seven Samurai in the U.K.

Where to watch Seven Samurai

Seven Samurai is currently streaming on Criterion Channel and on HBO Max. Fans can also watch the movie by renting or purchasing it on iTunes, Amazon Instant Video, Google Play, and Vudu.

The 50 greatest movies ever made

Seven Samurai ranks No. 1 in our list of 50 greatest movies ever made. Click here to find out the other films that made it to the top 50.