My English class spent several days watching a Japanese movie called, Seven Samurai. At first, I was quite certain I would end up disliking it. The movie was made in 1954, years before I was even born. It was in black and white. I had to read the English subtitles of some very fast-speaking Japanese men. However, after finishing the movie, I realized there was one quote from the movie that never left my mind: “War is not fought alone”.
The basic plot of the movie consisted of seven samurai with different personalities and backgrounds agreeing to work together and defend a poor farm village from bandits. The quote was said by one samurai to another to remind him that in order to win the battle, they must each fulfill their duty to defeat the enemy as a whole. Oddly enough, when I read the white letters that spelled out, “war is not fought alone” on the screen, the first thing that came to my mind was a childhood game called “Red Rover”. Throughout the rest of the movie, that quote and memories of playing “Red Rover” continuously appeared in my thoughts. Initially, I was thoroughly puzzled with myself, because there seemed to be no connection between the intensity and bloodiness of war with the innocence and playfulness of an elementary school game. However, upon reflection, I realized that the concept of teamwork would be the same under all circumstances.
In Seven Samurai, when Kikuchiyo left his position, he did not realize what the consequences of his actions would be. His petty jealousy of Kyuzo’s ability to obtain a musket led him to go off on his own to prove that he could do the same. His decision to leave his post ultimately cost the life of his fellow samurai and friend, Gorobei, as well as many farmers from the village. The tragedy would not have occurred if Kikuchiyo had just done his part and put the good of the whole above his own pride and jealousy. Instead, he had created a breach in the security of his team, and weak spot that the enemy knew to attack.
The same principles can be applied to “Red Rover”. The game consists of two teams, each team standing about thirty feet apart in parallel lines, facing each other. Players of the same team hold hands, so two “walls” are created. The teams take turns calling out “Red rover, red rover, send [name of player on opposite team] right over”. That person then has to try to “break the opposing “wall” and get to the other side. If he fails, he must now join the opposite team. If he is able to make it across, he is allowed to bring one of the broken “links” back to his team. The game is a practice of teamwork and responsibility. If each link the chain is secure as everyone holds on tightly to their team members’ hands, no one would be able to break the chain. However, if even just a single person acts as the weak link and continuously allows the opposing team to run through, the game will quickly be over and his team would lose.
“War cannot be fought alone”. This quote teaches a universal moral found in numerous stories and movies throughout the years, taught to people maybe without them even realizing it: teamwork is key. The grown men in Seven Samurai had to learn this lesson through the hardships and death of battle. In my case, I seem to have recognized this principle at an earlier age, through the happy childhood game, “Red Rover”. Some things require a team effort, or success is simply out of reach. No matter what the circumstances are, to achieve the goal, you must be able to count on yourself and your teammates to not be that chink in the armor, that weak link in the chain.