ASPECT RATIO: 2.35:1
RUNNING TIME: 128 minutes
RATING: Not rated
AUDIO: English 5.1 DTS-HD Master Audio, English Mono 2.0, Spanish Dolby Digital 5.1
SUBTITLES: English Subtitles for the Deaf and Hearing Impaired, French, Spanish
SPECIAL FEATURES: “Guns for Hire: The Making of the Magnificent Seven” documentary, “Elmer Bernstein and The Magnificent Seven” featurette, “The Linen Book: Lost Images from The Magnificent Seven” featurette, Original theatrical trailers, still gallery.
AUDIO COMMENTARY: With producer Walter Mirisch and actors James Coburn and Eli Wallach.
A group of gunfighters gets more than they bargained for when they head south to protect a town of farmers terrorized by a ruthless bandito (Eli Wallach) and his men.
Director: John Sturges
Screenplay: William Roberts
Based on Akira Kurosawa’s Seven Samurai, The Magnificent Seven has earned, over time, the right to be judged solely on its own merits over being compared to its Japanese inspiration. The basic premise is the same: a group of farmers hires seven protectors to save them from a band of outlaws that swoops in and takes everything they have.
It may share similar themes like honor, courage, and redemption with its Japanese counterpart, but The Magnificent Seven is uniquely American. Set against the landscape of the Old West, the film is beautifully shot, and is elevated by Elmer Bernstein’s iconic score, arguably one of he best ever written for a film.
The characters, every last one of them, are well constructed and delivered with outstanding performances. Yul Brynner may not have been an actor of great emotional range, but he had a commanding presence. He was the perfect choice to play Chris, the leader of the gunslingers. Steve McQueen, James Coburn, Charles Bronson and Robert Vaughn would all go on to become Hollywood legends, thanks in large part to their roles here. Their personas leap off the screen.
A rousing western that entertains a half century later, The Magnificent Seven is old Hollywood at its best. Sequels and remakes never quite lived up to the original, which makes you wonder why one would mess with perfection.
VIDEO AND AUDIO
Over fifty years after the film was released, the video could not look better. The print used for the transfer has been cleaned of all dust and debris, and offers excellent detail and color reproduction. Considering some of the sad excuses for video transfers I have seen recently (for much newer films), the quality of the video here is outstanding.
The audio is DTS 5.1 HD-MA, and sounds superb, considering the source. Voices and sounds effects are never going to sound perfect, but the quality here is quite good considering the age. The music sounds incredible – God bless you, Elmer Bernstein!
The “Making of” documentary is very well done, providing a satisfying look at the film’s production. Each of the seven actors talks about their time on the set, and the fact that some of the film’s actors have passed on has allowed some great stories to surface, including the rivalry between Brynner and McQueen.
The Elmer Bernstein featurette breaks down the classic score, and the “linen book” featurette shows old promotional photos taken on the set. Better yet, Eli Wallach takes a look at the book and shares his memories. Trailers and stills are also included.
The audio commentary features Walter Mirisch, Eli Wallach, and James Coburn. It is great to listen to, and it is a real treat that a commentary was recorded by two of the film’s actors before they passed.
THE BOTTOM LINE: BUY IT OR NETFLIX IT?
OVERALL GRADE: A
The Magnificent Seven is the perfect western. Every film student should watch it and take notes, and every young person disappointed by overhyped summer films should watch this and see an entertaining, satisfying film that stands the test of time. Don’t even think about it, just buy it. It deserves a place in your Blu-ray collection.
The Magnificent Seven is available on Blu-ray and DVD from MGM/20th Century Fox Home Entertainment.
Click here to order The Magnificent Seven on Blu-ray from Amazon!