“The Magnificent Seven” (1960) is not only one of the greatest westerns made in the 1960s, but it is also in my opinion, the number one remake of a foreign film by Hollywood.
“A bandit [Eli Wallach, The Good, the Bad, and the Ugly ] terrorizes a small Mexican farming village each year. Several of the village elders send three of the farmers go into the United States to search for gunmen to defend them. They end up with 7, [Led by Yule Brynner, The Ten Commandments ], each of whom comes for a different reason. They must prepare the town to repulse an army of over 100 bandits who will arrive wanting food.” (imdb.com)
Based upon Akira Kurosawa’s brilliant “The Seven Samurai” (1954), the writer takes the Japanese feudalistic society of Shogunist Japan and transfer it to Mexico in the late nineteenth century. The similarities between the cultures are where the true brilliance of the adaptation comes into play. By acknowledging that poor villagers have the same basic attributes worldwide, all that is needed to complete the parallel is the warrior class, and where better to find such a group than the gunslingers of the old west.
As a fan of both movies, I have to say that“The Magnificent Seven” is the better of the two films for today’s audiences. While Kurosawa’s work is artistically deeper, it runs nearly four hours long, and is in Japanese, which might be off putting to American audiences. William Roberts in his screenplay for “The Magnificent Seven” (which is only 2 hours) manages to maintain the integrity of the storyline of the other film, but ends on a higher note. Instead of focusing on the end of the warrior class as a part of society, he focuses on the positive side of the final outcome.
In addition to the writing, “The Magnificent Seven” features an all-star cast that includes Yule Brynner, Steve McQueen, Charles Bronson, James Coburn, and Eli Wallach. The film additionally features a brilliant score by Elmer Bernstein.
Despite the focus on action in the film, there also is a deeper philosophy expressed. Charles Bronson’s character talks about the farmers in one scene: “Running a farm, working like a mule every day with no guarantee anything will ever come of it. This is bravery. That’s why I never even started anything like that… that’s why I never will. “
(1990-2011). “The Magnificent Seven”. In Internet Movie Database . Retrieved February 23, 2011, from http://www.imdb.com/title/tt0054047/
(1990-2011). “The Seven Samurai” . In Internet Movie Database . Retrieved February 23, 2011, from http://www.imdb.com/title/tt0047478/.