Magnificent Seven" on DVD
One of the best Westerns ever made, John Sturges' adaptation of Kurosawa's
"Seven Samurai" features an all star cast and a wonderful screenplay befitting
its place in movie history.
The story surrounds a poor Mexican farming village regularly terrorized
by ruthless bandido Calvera (Eli Wallach) and his band of thugs. In desperation,
the villagers send a representative to a US border town to buy guns, but
instead come back with a group of seven gunfighters they hope will kill
- or at least frighten away - Calvera and thereby let them live in peace.
Sounds suspiciously like "A Bug's Life," doesn't it?
Anyway, the leader of the seven is Chris (Yul Brynner), who recruits
friends and peers who happen to be in the area, convincing some by appealing
to their altruistic streak, others by offering them a place to hide out
from their enemies, and another comes along looking for hidden treasure
he believes must be there otherwise no self respecting gunslinger would
go there for the paltry sum being offered as reward.
Much to their chagrin, a few of the Seven start getting drawn into the
villagers' lives, and even start dreaming that once the brutal affair
is over they could settle there and find new, peaceful lives in which
they wouldn't have to keep looking over their shoulders.
Alas, twas not to be.
While things generally work out in the end, the hope of a peaceful existence
is destroyed for all but one of the group, while the survivors ride off
into the distance bemoaning the vagaries of cruel fate.
The cast is absolutely wonderful and one can't imagine a better job of
casting. The Seven consist of Brynner, Steve McQueen, James Coburn, Charles
Bronson, Robert Vaughan, Brad Dexter, and Host Bucholz, and they each
have wonderful moments in the film.
If you watch the "making of" documentary on the disc (which, to the
credit of the producers, was shot and is presented in anamorphic, 16x9
widescreen video) you'll discover that some of the moments were created
ad lib by the actors themselves - sometimes to ensure their faces didn't
get lost among all the star power on screen.
The DVD is in widescreen, 16x9 TV compatible, and Dolby Digital 5.1 surround.
MGM has also included the original mono audio track, but we preferred
the 5.1; there wasn't a lot of surround (though there's some), but the
dialogue comes from the center channel on the Dolby Digital version, which
is where it belongs.
The video quality is very good, though when the shot is about to dissolve
into another it gets a mite grainy. Audio quality is good as well, though
Extras include the abovementioned documentary, an audio commentary track
by Wallach, Coburn, producer Walter Mirisch, and others. There's also
a photo gallery, "collectible booklet" (read "liner notes"), and trailers.
This is a must see DVD!
The Magnificent Seven, from MGM Home Video
128 min, widescreen (2.35:1), 16x9 TV compatible, Dolby Digital 5.1/mono
Starring Yul Brynner, Steve McQueen, James Coburn, Charles Bronson, Robert
Vaughan, Brad Dexter, Horst Bucholz, Eli Wallach,
Produced by Walter Mirisch
Written by William Roberts, Directed by John Sturges.
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