Akira Kurosawa

Akira Kurosawa – Ichiban utsukushiku AKA The Most Beautiful (1944)

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The Most Beautiful is a wartime propaganda film depicting the efforts of female factory workers in a precision-lens manufacturing plant. It is episodic and anecdotal and very documentary-like. Donald Richie records specific instances of documentary techniques borrowed principally from Russian filmmakers such as the austere and static composition of its scenes. This need not be entertained to any considerable degree: the point is, holistically, the overwhelming impression is one of a document. We see many shots of the lens-making equipment, and through these learn the process of lens manufacture itself. Nearly every scene is segmented with shots of a parade (a military band, a marching platoon of young soldiers, etc.) and the film itself was shot in a real factory, a length to which Kurosawa would rarely go in later work. Read More »

Akira Kurosawa – Kakushi-toride no san-akunin AKA The Hidden Fortress (1958)

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Quote:
Lured by gold, two greedy peasants escort a man and woman across enemy lines, not realising that their companions are actually a princess and her general. Read More »

Akira Kurosawa – Dodesukaden [+Extras] (1970)

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Quote:
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. Read More »

Akira Kurosawa – Rashomon (1950)

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Plot:

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. Read More »

Akira Kurosawa – Shizukanaru ketto AKA A Silent Duel (1949)

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Synopsis
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. Read More »

Akira Kurosawa – Tengoku to jigoku AKA High and Low (1963)

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Synopsis
“Criterion” wrote:
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. Read More »

Akira Kurosawa – Tora no o wo fumu otokotachi AKA They Who Step on the Tiger’s Tail (1945)

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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 [email protected] 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. Read More »