Summary: Very detailed for a book of its size...
Comment: While Joan Mellen tries to be very complete, with lots of information on the cultural background, use of sound, light and stories about the cast, the book barely touches the surface of the movie. Of course, with less than 80 pages, there is only so much you can do. Also, the information is not well ordered, bouncing about a lot. Some of the space is kind of wasted on attacking people who, themselves, attacked Kurosawa and his greatest film.
A great little book, but I bet there are larger, more massive tomes about the subject.
Summary: If You Can't See the Movie, Read This Book
Comment: It has been years since I have seen "The Seven Samurai," a movie I greatly admire. Reading Mellen's book brought back all the things I love about that film.
Mellen goes into the origins of the film, into Kurosawa's script and his ideas about history. She discusses how the different characters represent aspects of the samurai class. Her analysis of the last scene, where the surviving samurai leave the village, is quite powerful and accurate.
If the book has a flaw, it is that Mellen devotes a bit of time to bashing those writers who are critical of "The Seven Samurai." If they can't appreciate Kurosawa's film, that is punishment enough.
If you enjoy "The Seven Samurai" this book will amplify your understanding of that film and thus increase your enjoyment when you watch the movie again.