By identifying King Lear with the ancient Japanese warlord Hidetora, whose violations emerge from a breach of publicly identified self-hood, Akira Kurosawa plays with the quintessentially Shakespearean focus on individual personality.
These films represented Akira Kurosawa’s ascendance to greater international acclaim, while he struggled to find financing in Japan, where the movie industry was shriveling.
There are striking differences between Kurosawa’s earlier and later films, including in the different ways people have responded to these two groups of films.
Today’s Kurosawa 101 focuses on what’s generally regarded as the greatest Japanese film ever made and perhaps the greatest in world film: Seven Samurai.
When Akira Kurosawa made the conversion to a wider screen, he did so by making six consecutive films in widescreen, with a degree of success as resounding as it was influential.
Today’s Kurosawa 101 films include the director’s only effort at bringing a contemporary Japanese stage play to the screen (the rarely seen The Quiet Duel), a police procedural that was the finest Kurosawa film to date (Stray Dog), and a scree against tabloid journalism that resulted in one of the weakest films he would ever direct (Scandal).
Kurosawa’s films often act as deliberate examinations of historical periods, exploring difficult realities that existed and the ordeals of the individuals.
It’s impossible to imagine a world without Akira Kurosawa’s films. He’s one of the greatest directors in movie history, having made many first-tier masterpieces.
Over the next two weeks, we will discuss every film that Akira Kurosawa directed, from the obscure to the most celebrated, from Scandal and The Most Beautiful to Seven Samurai and Ran.