For this week’s film, I decided to watch Seven Samurai, edited and directed by Akira Kurosawa. This film follows the journey of samurai warriors who agree to help local farmers against bandits. This film used several interesting editing techniques to create an entertaining movie, including establishing shots, transition wipes, eyeline matches, and continuity of action.
Establishing shots were used in this film to enable the viewer to understand the layout of the land. When the samurai arrived at the village and began making preparations to go to battle with the bandits, viewers see several close-up shots of a drawn map of the village, which then transition into a long-shot view of that specific area. This establishing shot allows the viewers to know where the samurai were planning to set-up preparations to prevent the bandits from attacking the village.
Transition “wipes” were also used in this film to move from one shot to another. One example of this was when the village elder was talking about finding samurai and paying them with food. He says, “Even the bears come out of the forests, when they’re hungry.” The wipe then occurs, and the next shot is of men walking in the village. Our textbook even provided this example on page 219.
Another editing technique used in this film was the eyeline match. An example of this technique was when Kyuzo fought a random man with bamboo sticks. Kyuzo warned the man that if they fought with steel blades, he’d kill him. The man insisted on fighting with them, so Kyuzo fought him. As this scene is taking place, Kambei Shimada is standing with his disciple and others watching the event. The eyeline shot shows Kambei looking offscreen at the fight, and then it changes shots so that the viewer can watch the fight from Kambei’s perspective.
Finally, the final fight scene uses several techniques to capture the climactic battle. The editing techniques of crosscuts, jump cuts, and match on action were used to capture several different action scenes taking place at once, while still maintaining continuity of action. These techniques enabled Kurosawa to parallel each character’s own fight scene seamlessly, and it brought the entire battle together.
This chapter really opened my eyes to how much editing affects the final product, and it has a tremendous impact on how the story is told.