Akira Kurosawa

Akira Kurosawa – Shichinin no samurai AKA Seven Samurai [+commentary] (1954)

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Quote:
In 16th century Japan, protracted feudal wars have created a prevailing sense of lawlessness. Bandits have organized into formidable armies that scavenge the countryside in search of villages to loot. One morning, a band of thieves arrive at the outskirts of a farming community, but is persuaded to delay their attack until the barley has been harvested. A peasant farmer overhears their plan, and summons the villagers for a town meeting. The farmers seek counsel from the village elder (Kuninori Todo) who advises them to hire “hungry samurai” who would protect their village in exchange for meals. But the task of finding formidable samurais who will accept such a meager compensation proves to be a difficult task. One day, the farmers witness a middle-aged ronin (masterless samurai) named Kambei Shimada (Takashi Shimura) single-handedly rescue an abducted child by relying solely on his cunning intelligence and precise technical skill. Kambei has grown weary of fighting, but the plight of the farmers wins his sympathy, and he agrees to take up their seemingly hopeless cause. Read More »

Akira Kurosawa – Waga seishun ni kuinashi AKA No Regrets For Our Youth (1946)

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Quote:
In Akira Kurosawa’s first film after the end of World War II, future beloved Ozu regular Setsuko Hara gives an astonishing performance as Yukie, the only female protagonist in Kurosawa’s body of work and one of his strongest heroes. Transforming herself from genteel bourgeois daughter to independent social activist, Yukie traverses a tumultuous decade in Japanese history. Read More »

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 »