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.
These three Kurosawa films represent the end of one phase of his career and the beginning of another. High and Low is a police procedural that is regarded as one of his greatest films, while Red Beard represented the end of his so-called “Creative Period”.
Akira Kurosawa walked a fine line in his treatment and portrayal of women in his films, and he didn’t always walk it without stumbling.
As a painter and filmmaker, Akira Kurosawa stuck to his own style, informed heavily by traditional Japanese painting as well as European impressionists and expressionists, another arena of art where he answered to both Eastern and Western influences.
After creating two masterpieces in Ikiru and Seven Samurai, Kurosawa put his genius on display on three more brilliant films that were unlike anything he had previously done.
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 explores two of the greatest films in Kurosawa’s catalog, Rashomon — the film that made Kurosawa and Japanese cinema known throughout the world — and Ikiru — perhaps the greatest film ever made about impending death.