‘The Magnificent Seven’ is considered one of those all-time classic westerns. Some have even considered it the best western ever made. So it had a lot of positive feedback going for it before I even began. Seeing the cast of this movie only gave me more hope. However, I’ve been let down before; even well-cast westerns often really struggle to hold my attention. However, I was pleasantly surprised by this film and it now stands as perhaps my favourite western ever made.
‘The Magnificent Seven’ is about a small Mexican village just over the border that is being continuously ransacked by a bandit leader and his men. The villagers go in search of gunfighters and weapons to fight back and they come across the brave nomadic cowboy and gunslinger, Chris Larabee Adams. Together, they round up a group of seven talented gunfighters who will train the villagers and also defend the town from the villainous bandit leader, Calvera.
When watching a movie that many consider iconic or timeless, you may find yourself hard-pressed to see negatives about the film. This was the case with ‘The Magnificent Seven’. I have almost no complaints about the film. Sure, we can talk about how it is an Americanised telling of Akira Kurosawa’s ‘Seven Samurai’ (1954), which from a filmmaking standpoint is one of the greatest films ever made.
However, stories about mercenary cowboys teenage much more with American culture than samurais. That said, I think both films can and should be acknowledged, respected, and loved. The only other issue was that at times the film would linger a bit too long in one area. This time was used as a tool to build tension and foreshadow upcoming scenes, but that slower pace can remove you from the experience.
The acting though was very good. It is rare to get stars like Yul Brynner, James Coburn, Steve McQueen and Charles Bronson all in one movie. All of their characters had interesting back stories, reasons for defending the town, and faults that could break them. ‘The Magnificent Seven’ is a film with so many different kinds of characters, you can likely find someone to root for or against, as well as connect with on some personal, intrinsic level.
While the movie is all-around well made, perhaps its finest quality was the musical score. The score is among the most iconic western soundtracks ever created. I had never watched the film in full before, but I had heard the score several times and loved it. Now I was able to see the score and the film side by side and they compliment one another beautifully.
There are plenty of westerns I don’t care much for; even some of the greats, because of their inaccuracies and insensitivity. Above all else, many fail to engage me and simply start to bore me. ‘The Magnificent Seven’ transcended all others I’ve seen except for perhaps ‘The Good, the Bad, and The Ugly’ (1966). I definitely consider this movie in the top three westerns ever made. If you enjoy the western genre, this is a must see.
Director: John Sturges
Starring: Yul Brynner, Charles Bronson, Steve McQueen