Everything I Know about Filmmaking I Learned Watching Seven Samurai [Paperback]


Akira Kurosawa’s “Seven Samurai” is one of the most influential, if not the most influential movies ever made. It’s a masterpiece of epic cinema that not only helped usher in foreign cinema, but also displayed a talent for storytelling that went beyond the reaches of ninety minutes. Kurosawa inspired many American directors, as well as his own contemporaries to try for their own cinematic epics, and to this day, the template for “Seven Samurai” has given influence to the creation of many great films like “Galaxy Quest,” and “The Magnificent Seven.” You can feel author Richard D. Pepperman’s love for Kurosawa’s film pulsating in every page of his book.

He isn’t just a fan, but he’s memorized every moment, and every little nuance to the point where it’s pretty shocking. Pepperman sets a preamble for the book with two very lengthy essays and introductions emphasizing the importance of “Seven Samurai,” and Pepperman’s sheer love for Kurosawa and “Seven Samurai.” He also pays great tribute to the Criterion Company for restoring the film for audiences everywhere. What’s very interesting about “Everything I Know…” is that Pepperman doesn’t just make the argument for the film teaching him everything he knows.

He completely unfolds the film from the opening credits right down to the closing credits minute by minute to help elaborate how the film itself is also the language of filmmaking. Author Pepperman helps elucidate that Kurosawa snuck in his own minute and major trademarks that would go on to influence directors everywhere, while also telling a rich and unique tale. If you think the concept for the book is stretching, thankfully author Pepperman never writes the tome in the sense that he is just pulling nonsense out of thin air. Kurosawa did change the mold and formula of filmmaking, and Pepperman displays how, from the lack of opening credits, to using shots to connect to audiences and help elicit sympathies and hatred for certain characters, whether we knew it or not.

Director Richard D. Pepperman simultaneously makes a wonderful argument for re-watching Kurosawa’s film. And for those that haven’t had the privilege, allows readers a chance to pick up the movie and give it a first try. Whether you’re an indie filmmaker, or aiming for an epic picture, “Everything I Know about Filmmaking I Learned Watching Seven Samurai,” from Michael Wiese Productions, is a great guidebook. It’s a fun and absolutely invaluable to the aspiring filmmaker, that can help artists gain a feel for the method of Kurosawa and his formula for unfolding a story. Most importantly, it works as a handy reference tool on how to get the most out of every minute of film.