By turns tragic and transcendent, Akira Kurosawa’s film follows the daily lives of a group of people barely scraping by in a slum on the outskirts of Tokyo. Yet as desperate as their circumstances are, each of them—the homeless father and son envisioning their dream house; the young woman abused by her uncle; the boy who imagines himself a trolley conductor—finds reasons to carry on. The unforgettable Dodes’ka-den was made at a tumultuous moment in Kurosawa’s life. And all of his hopes, fears, and artistic passion are on fervent display in this, his gloriously shot first color film. Continue reading
One of the most beloved movie epics of all time, Akira Kurosawa’s Seven Samurai (Shichinin no samurai) tells the story of a sixteenth-century village whose desperate inhabitants hire the eponymous warriors to protect them from invading bandits. This three-hour ride—featuring legendary actors Toshiro Mifune and Takashi Shimura—seamlessly weaves philosophy and entertainment, delicate human emotions and relentless action into a rich, evocative, and unforgettable tale of courage and hope.
(Criterion Collection) Continue reading
As the film opens, three characters seek shelter from a driving rainstorm (it never sprinkles in a Kurosawa film!) beneath the ruined Rashomon gate that guards the southern entrance to the court capital. As they wait for the storm to pass, the priest (Minoru Chiaki), the woodcutter (Takashi Shimura), and the commoner (Kichijiro Ueda) discuss a recent and scandalous crime––a noblewoman (Machiko Kyo) was raped in the forest, her samurai husband (Masayuki Mori) killed as a result of either murder or suicide, and a thief named Tajomaru (Toshiro Mifune) was arrested for the crime. Continue reading
Toshirō Mifune (in the second of many films with Kurosawa), plays a young idealistic doctor, still a virgin, who works at his father’s (Takashi Shimura) clinic in a small and seedy district. However, during the war, he contracts syphilis from the blood of a patient when he cuts himself during an operation. Treating himself in secret and tormented by his conscience and celibacy, he rejects his heartbroken fiancée without explanation. Continue reading
Plot Outline :
At the age of 70, after years of consolidating his empire, the Great Lord Hidetora Ichimonji (played brilliantly by Tatsuya Nadakai) decides to abdicate the throne and divide his domain among his three sons. To illustrate his demand for family unity, Hidetora shows that a single arrow can be easily broken, but three arrows held together are strong. The loyalty the Great Lord dreams of doesn’t happen and his empire falls to family bickering and civil war, with the old lord traveling from son to son in a futile attempt to keep empire and family together. Continue reading
Toshiro Mifune is unforgettable as Kingo Gondo, a wealthy industrialist whose family becomes the target of a cold-blooded kidnapper in Akira Kurosawa’s highly influential High and Low (Tengoku to jigoku). Adapting Ed McBain’s detective novel King’s Ransom, Kurosawa moves effortlessly from compelling race-against-time thriller to exacting social commentary, creating a penetrating portrait of contemporary Japanese society. Continue reading
The Men Who Tread on the Tiger’s Tail, the fourth film from Akira Kurosawa, is based on
a legendary twelfth-century incident in which the lord Yoshitsune, with the help of a group of samurai, crosses enemy territory disguised as a monk. The story was dramatized for centuries in Noh and Kabuki theater, and here it becomes one of the director’s lightest, most farcical films.
Boris Trbic@Senese of Cinema wrote:
Akira Kurosawa’s They Who Step on the Tiger’s Tail is a film version of a twelfth century Japanese tale which forms the central narrative of the Noh drama Ataka and the popular Kabuki play, Kanjincho. Along with Sanshiro Sugata (1943), The Most Beautiful (1944) and Sanshiro Sugata-Part Two (1945), this is the fourth film Kurosawa shot during World War Two. He completed the script in only a few days, and, adhering to the strict regulations of the Japanese military authorities, convinced the producer that he would shoot the entire footage in one location. However, the filming coincided with the end of the war and Kurosawa completed the shoot during the early days of the American occupation. Continue reading