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The Magnificent Seven remake: A Western for a new generation?

Given the success of the original 1960s Western, ‘The Magnificent Seven,’ which evolved from Kurosawa’s ‘Seven Samurai’ – did we need another Magnificent Seven remake?

The Magnificent Seven remake takes aim at the Western genre

‘The Magnificent Seven’ is the story of seven gunfighters who come together to protect a Mexican peasant village from an army of thieves.

Directed by John Sturges, it was released in 1960.

Now, a modern day vision of the film has been released, directed by Antoine Fuqua.

With the increasing number of remakes coming out of Hollywood, it’s easy to forget that the original ‘Magnificent Seven’ evolved from 1954’s ‘Seven Samurai.’

Akira Kurosawa’s Japanese epic, which loosely means “the seven people that serve” is often cited by critics as one of the greatest films ever made.

During research for the remake, Fuqua says they read many books about the West and how diverse it was, with people from everywhere in the world.

And that’s the West they set out to create – only a contemporary version with new characters – with differing backstories.

Fuqua says that Sturges’ film is “amazing,” but that the “black-and-white wholesomeness” of the heroes in early westerns has changed:

The John Wayne from ‘Stagecoach’ became the John Wayne in ‘The Searchers;’ and after Vietnam you have movies like ‘The Wild Bunch,’ where they are bad guys, but you fell in love with them anyway.

Or as producer Todd Black puts it:

An older generation might know this title, but today’s generation doesn’t, and that made it right for a retelling.

Inspiration for The Magnificent Seven remake

Fuqua says that it was Kurosawa’s ’Seven Samurai’ which inspired him to become a filmmaker.

During pre-production he watched the film many times, to make sure that the DNA of Kurosawa’s movie stayed in place, that morally speaking:

No matter who you are or what you’re doing, you have to do the right thing for people who need help.

But, speaking at the Venice Film Festival, he credited Sergio Leone, the director of epic Western’s like ‘The Good, The Bad and The Ugly’ as the man who changed the genre:

You know in America the Westerns were pretty wholesome. You know, the good guy had to wear the white hat and say all the sweet things. And Sergio Leone came along and the good guy was the bad guy. And sometimes he never even had a name. And I think it changed the way we saw the West.

1960’s ‘Magnificent Seven’ brought together a killer cast which included Yul Brynner, Steve McQueen, Charles Bronson and James Coburn.

For the remake, the ensemble includes Denzel Washington, Chris Pratt, Ethan Hawke and Vincent D’Onofrio.

It’s the third movie Fuqua and Washington have collaborated on.

‘Training Day’ saw Washington win an Academy Award for ‘Best Actor.’

They also had financial success with ‘The Equaliser,’ a movie based on the eighties TV show starring Edward Woodward.

Music for The Magnificent Seven remake

One of the standout memories of the original ‘Magnificent Seven’ is it’s soundtrack by Elmer Bernstein.

For the new film, Fuqua had discussed the script with James Horner, the composer of epic scores including ‘Braveheart.’

But it was only after his death in 2015, that Fuqua found out that Horner had written, ironically, seven pieces of music for ‘The Magnificent Seven’ – his final work.

In 2013 ‘The Magnificent Seven’ was selected for preservation in the U.S. National Film Registry for being “culturally, historically or aesthetically significant.”

Some might say, remaking the film is a bold move.

But Fuqua says his film is set in a different time, a different era, and they wanted to create something for young people that don’t know westerns – so they feel like that have something of their own.