Tag Archives: Akira Kurosawa

Akira Kurosawa – Ikiru (1952)

Synopsis:
Kanji Watanabe is a longtime bureaucrat in a city office who, along with the rest of the office, spends his entire working life doing nothing. He learns he is dying of cancer and wants to find some meaning in his life. He finds himself unable to talk with his family, and spends a night on the town with a novelist, but that leaves him unfulfilled. He next spends time with a young woman from his office, but finally decides he can make a difference through his job… After Watanabe’s death, co-workers at his funeral discuss his behavior over the last several months and debate why he suddenly became assertive in his job to promote a city park, and resolve to be more like Watanabe. Read More »

Akira Kurosawa – Nora inu AKA Stray Dog (1949)

Quote:
Stray Dog is an intense criminal story that examines the psychology of the characters as in compares the similarities between criminals and detectives. These similarities are balanced on a thin line based on choice, which Kurosawa dissects studiously through the camera lens. Kurosawa’s investigation of the character’s psychology creates a spiraling suspense that is enhanced through subtle surprises and brilliant cinematography. The camera use often displays shots through thin cloths, close ups, and new camera angles, which also makes the film aesthetically appealing. When Kurosawa brings together camera work and cast performance, among other cinematic aspects, he leaves the audience with a brilliantly suspenseful criminal drama, which leaves much room for introspection and retrospection. Read More »

Akira Kurosawa – Akahige AKA Red Beard [+commentary] (1965)

Synopsis:
In a charity hospital, a hard-bitten but honorable older doctor, Dr. Niide, takes a young intern under his guidance through the course of a number of difficult cases. Read More »

Akira Kurosawa – Donzoko AKA The Lower Depths (1957)

Synopsis:
Japanese filmmaker Akira Kurosawa transferred the setting of Maxim Gorky’s play The Lower Depths from Imperial Russia to his own country’s Edo Period–which, like Gorky’s 19th-century setting, was an era of great cultural advances, offset by the miseries of those who weren’t in the aristocracy. Kurosawa’s film concentrates on Toshiro Mifune, playing a crooked gambler who falls in love with the sister (Kyoko Kagawa) of his cruel landlady (Isuzu Yamada). Herself carrying a torch for Mifune, the landlady exacts a roundabout revenge by killing her own husband and pinning the blame on the gambler. As the landlady descends into madness, those whom she has treated wretchedly laugh at her plight. Read More »

Akira Kurosawa – Kagemusha [+Extras] (1980)

Just as many American studio-era directors found acclaim abroad that was denied them in their home country, by 1980 Akira Kurosawa’s reputation outside Japan exceeded his esteem at home. As uncompromising as ever, he found considerable difficulty securing backing for his ambitious projects. Unsure he would be able to film it, the director, an aspiring artist before he entered filmmaking, converted Kagemusha into a series of paintings, and it was partly on the basis of these that he won the financial support of longtime admirers Francis Ford Coppola and George Lucas. Set in the 16th century, when powerful warlords competed for control of Japan, it offers an examination of the nature of political power and the slipperiness of identity. Read More »

Akira Kurosawa – Akahige (1965)

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In the Nineteenth Century, in Japan, the arrogant and proud just-graduated Dr. Noboru Yasumoto (Yuzo Kayama) is forced to work in the Koshikawa Clinic, a non-profit health facility ruled by Dr. Kyojio Niide (Toshir Mifune), a.k.a. “Red Beard”. “Red Beard” is a good, sentimental, but also very firm, strong and fair man. While in the clinic, Dr. Yasumoto becomes responsible for healing the hurt teenager Otoyo (Terumi Niki), and he learns a lesson of humanity, becoming a better man. Read More »

Akira Kurosawa – Ikiru [+Extras] (1952)

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REVIEW:Shan Jayaweera, Senses of Cinema

Along with the various uses of time and perspective in the narrative, Ikiru displays all the other hallmarks that make Kurosawa such an important and influential filmmaker. The framing, shot composition and editing techniques all beautifully work together to bring out the story the most dazzling of these being the sequence reminiscing about his son. The dissolves and the matching of shots past to present are used to such effect that the audience is left feeling his pain not of imminent death but wasted life. Special mention must also go to Takashi Shimura’s beautiful performance as Mr Watanabe. Shimura and Kurosawa worked many times together, most famously in Seven Samurai where Shimura played the head samurai. As Mr Watanabe, Shimura’s mannerisms and reactions take the audience into the inner most depths and thoughts of the character. His performance lingers through the second half even though we barely see him. Read More »