In these contentious times I take comfort in watching old classic films like Kurosawa’s masterpiece, The Seven Samurai. Kurosawa presents what happens when a small band of altruistic warriors takes on the challenge of protecting a poor and defenseless village from the savage rape and plunder of a ruthless gang of bandits. The bandit force outnumber the villagers by ten to one.

We soon feel that we are in the middle of a terrible battle for survival. Kurosawa’s cinematography creates a visceral response from the audience. He is showing us that there is nowhere to hide from these dark forces. Denial is suicide for ourselves and community. Kurosawa calls on us to transform our fear and act with compassion, discipline and precision.  He helps us understand that every living thing is vulnerable and death or life comes in unexpected ways. 

If there is any chance for survival it comes from the insights and experience of the wisest of the Samurai, played by The brilliant actor Takashi Shimura.  First this wise warrior senses that each sub group in the village has their own special interests and if allowed to fester these special interests will tear the fragile community apart even before the bandits attack.

He gathers all the villagers and Samurai together. He knows that the village must work as one. So he speaks a simple truth which at first seems paradoxical but we soon comprehend that it’s the truth. “This is the nature of war. By protecting others you save yourself. If you only think of yourself you destroy yourself.”

For further lessons learned from Seven Samurai check out what I had to say here: