Something Like an Autobiography
by Akira Kurosawa
Published by Vintage | 1983 | 205 pages
Among Japanese film makers, no one is perhaps as universally known as Akira Kurosawa.
“Something like an Autobiography” is an account of the legendary director’s early life. It is only a partial account, encompassing his childhood, adolescenct years, the early years of his film career, up to the point of Rashomon. Nonetheless, the book benefits anyone keen for understanding the man behind such remarkable films as Seven Samurai, Ikiru, Rashomon, and Dersu Uzala among others. Kurosawa’s films were – Stuart Galbraith IV writes in the introduction to his book “The Emperor and the Wolf” – first and foremost, deeply humanist pictures, films which effortlessly transcend cultures and centuries. Something like an Autobiography helps one understand the evolution of the artist Kurosawa, the influences that shaped his vision. Continue reading
Eight years into her marriage, Miyako Mizuki (Mariko Okada) looks happy on the outside, but in fact she is not satisfied with her husband, Yuzo (Shinsuke Ashida), who cares about nothing but his career. Miyako has been having an affair with a young interior designer named Kitano (Tamotsu Hayakawa), who in turn has a fiancée named Machie (Keiko Natsu). One night in a hotel, Miyako lets Kitano takes some nude photos of her. On her way back, she is followed by a stranger (Shigeru Tsuyuguchi), and loses her handbag with the film negatives inside while trying to escape. Later at home, Miyako receives a call from the stranger. He uses the negatives to threaten her to follow his instructions and take a train to the north. The stranger is named Ginpei. He was a teacher in a girls’ school, but was expelled because of a scandal with one of his students. As Miyako meets up with Ginpei, she develops a strange attraction towards him.
Daigo Fukuryū Maru (第五福龍丸?, Lucky Dragon 5) was a Japanese tuna fishing boat, which was exposed to and contaminated by nuclear fallout from the United States’ Castle Bravo thermonuclear device test on Bikini Atoll, on March 1, 1954. Kuboyama Aikichi, the boat’s chief radioman, died half a year later, on September 23, 1954, suffering from acute radiation syndrome. He is considered the first victim of the hydrogen bomb of Operation Castle Bravo.
Five years after the accident, the Japanese film director Shindo Kaneto made a film titled Daigo Fukuryu Maru. The actor Uno Jukichi played the role of Kuboyama Aikichi. Director Kaneto Shindo spoke at a screening of his 1959 film ”Daigo Fukuryu Maru” (Lucky Dragon No. 5), emphasizing the need to abolish nuclear weapons and to continue educating youth about the devastation they cause. ”Nuclear arms have been an issue since World War II,” the 91-year-old told an audience of over 90 people, citing this week’s multilateral talks in Beijing on North Korea’s nuclear ambitions. ”They can wipe out the human race.” Continue reading