ECLIPSE SERIES 23: THE FIRST FILMS OF AKIRA KUROSAWASanshiro Sugata
Akira Kurosawa’s debut, made when the director was only thirty-two years old, is based on a novel by Tsuneo Tomita about the rivalry between judo and jujitsu. Sanshiro Sugata
is a dazzling martial-arts action tale, but it’s also a moving story of moral education and enlightenment that’s quintessential Kurosawa.The Most Beautiful
Akira Kurosawa’s portrait of the all-female volunteer workers at an optics factory during World War II, shot on location at the Nippon Kogaku factory in Hiratsuka, was created with a definite patriotic agenda. Yet thanks to the director’s groundbreaking semidocumentary approach to the material, The Most Beautiful
is not merely nationalist propaganda, but a revealing look at Japanese women of the era that anticipates the aesthetics of Japanese cinema’s postwar social realism.Sanshiro Sugata, Part Two
Akira Kurosawa’s debut film, Sanshiro Sugata
, was such a big success that the studio pressured the director into making a sequel. The film may have been forced upon the young Kurosawa, but the result is hugely entertaining, reuniting most of the major players from the original and featuring a bifurcated narrative in which, first, Sanshiro confronts two Americans, a sailor and a boxer, and, second, Sanshiro finds himself the target of a revenge mission enacted by the brothers of the original film’s villain, Gennosuke.The Men Who Tread on the Tiger’s TailThe Men Who Tread on the Tiger’s Tail
, the fourth film from Akira Kurosawa, is based on a legendary twelfth-century incident in which the lord Yoshitsune, with the help of a group of samurai, crosses enemy territory disguised as a monk. The story was dramatized for centuries in Noh and Kabuki theater, and here it becomes one of the director’s lightest, most farcical films.