Akira Kurosawa

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Akira Kurosawa

#1 Post by zedz » Thu Mar 29, 2007 12:25 am

Akira Kurosawa (1910-1998)



Sanshiro Sugata / Judo Saga (1943)

The Most Beautiful / Ichiban Utsukushiku (1944)

Sanshiro Sugata II / Judo Saga Part II / Zoku Sugata Sanshiro (1945)

Those Who Tread on the Tiger's Tail / Tora no o wo fumu otokotachi (1945)

Those Who Make Tomorrow / Asu o tsukuru hitobito (1946)

No Regrets for Our Youth / Waga seishun nu kuinashi (1946)

One Wonderful Sunday / Subarashiki nichiyobi (1947)

Drunken Angel / Yoidore Tenshi (1948) Criterion / BFI

The Quiet Duel / Shizukanaru ketto (1949) BCI

Stray Dog / Nora inu (1949) Criterion

Scandal / Shubun (1950) MoC / AV Channel

Rashomon (1950) Criterion

The Idiot / Hakuchi (1951) Eclipse MoC

Ikiru / To Live (1952) Criterion

Seven Samurai / Shichinin no samurai (1954) Criterion

I Live in Fear / Record of a Living Being / Ikimono no kiroku (1955) BFI

Throne of Blood / Kumo no su-jo (1957) Criterion

The Lower Depths / Donzoko (1957) Criterion

The Hidden Fortress / Kakukshi toride no san akunin (1958) Criterion

The Bad Sleep Well / Warui yatsu hodo yoku nemuru (1960) Criterion / BFI

Yojimbo (1961) Criterion / BFI

Sanjuro / Tsubaki Sanjuro (1962) Criterion

High and Low / Tengoku to jigoku (1963) Criterion / BFI

Red Beard / Akahige (1965) Criterion

Dodes'ka-den / Dodesukaden (1970) Wildside / Aspect Ratio

Dersu Uzala (1974) Ruscico

Kagemusha (The Shadow Warrior) (1980) Criterion

Ran (1985) Criterion

Dreams / Yume (1990)

Rhapsody in August / Hachigatsu no kyoshikyoku (1991)

Madadayo (1993)

Forum Discusions

Akira Kurosawa on DVD

Akira Kurosawa at Wikipedia

The Films of Akira Kurosawa

Toho Masterworks: Akira Kurosawa: It Is Wonderful to Create

Seven Samurai (Criterion)

High and Low (Criterion)

Yojimbo and Sanjuro (Criterion)

The Hidden Fortress (Criterion)

Rashomon (Criterion)

Red Beard (Criterion)

Throne of Blood (Criterion)

Ikiru (Criterion)

Stray Dog (Criterion)

The Lower Depths (Criterion)

Kagemusha (Criterion)

Ran (Criterion)

The Bad Sleep Well (Criterion)

Drunken Angel (on Criterion)

Scandal (MoC)

The Idiot (MoC)


Yojimbo (BFI)

RUSCICO (Russian Cinema Council)

Japanese Films Not on DVD

Web Resources

Senses of Cinema

The Akira Kurosawa Foundation


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Awesome Welles
Joined: Fri Apr 27, 2007 6:02 am
Location: London

#2 Post by Awesome Welles » Sat Oct 27, 2007 9:18 am


From Chapter 3 of A Dream is a Genius, ISBN 4-16-355570. Edited by Bungeishunju. © 1999 Bungeishunju. Translated from Japanese by Nostalghia.com Japan correspondent SATO Kimitoshi.

1 Broken Blossoms or The Yellow Man and the Girl (Griffith, 1919) USA
2 Das Cabinet des Dr. Caligari [The Cabinet of Dr. Caligari] (Wiene, 1920) Germany
3 Dr. Mabuse, der Spieler – Ein Bild der Zeit [Dr. Mabuse, the Gambler] (Lang, 1922) Germany
4 The Gold Rush (Chaplin, 1925) USA
5 La Chute de la Maison Usher [The Fall of the House of Usher] (Jean Epstein, 1928) France
6 Un Chien Andalou [An Andalusian Dog] (Bunuel, 1928) France
7 Morocco (von Sternberg, 1930) USA
8 Der Kongress Tanzt (Charell, 1931) Germany
9 Die 3groschenoper [The Threepenny Opera] (Pabst, 1931) Germany
10 Leise Flehen Meine Lieder [Lover Divine] (Forst, 1933) Austria/Germany
11 The Thin Man (Dyke, 1934) USA
12 Tonari no Yae-chan [My Little Neighbour, Yae] (Shimazu, 1934) Japan
13 Tange Sazen yowa: Hyakuman ryo no tsubo [Sazen Tange and the Pot Worth a Million Ryo] (Yamanaka, 1935) Japan
14 Akanishi Kakita [Capricious Young Men] (Itami, 1936) Japan
15 La Grande Illusion [The Grand Illusion] (Renoir, 1937) France
16 Stella Dallas (Vidor, 1937) USA
17 Tsuzurikata Kyoshitsu [Composition Classes] [Lessons in Essay] (Yamamoto, 1938) Japan
18 Tsuchi [Earth] (Uchida, 1939) Japan
19 Ninotchka (Lubitsch, 1939) USA
20 Ivan Groznyy I, Ivan Groznyy II: Boyarsky Zagovor [Ivan the Terrible Parts I and II] (Eisenstein, 1944-46) Soviet Union
21 My Darling Clementine (Ford, 1946) USA
22 It's a Wonderful Life (Capra, 1946) USA
23 The Big Sleep (Hawks, 1946) USA
24 Ladri di Biciclette [The Bicycle Thief] [Bicycle Thieves] (De Sica, 1948) Italy
25 Aoi sanmyaku [The Green Mountains] (Imai, 1949) Japan
26 The Third Man (Reed, 1949) UK
27 Banshun [Late Spring] (Ozu, 1949) Japan
28 Orphée [Orpheus] (Cocteau, 1949) France
29 Karumen kokyo ni kaeru [Carmen Comes Home] (Kinoshita, 1951) Japan
30 A Streetcar Named Desire (Kazan, 1951) USA
31 Thérèse Raquin [The Adultress] (Carné, 1953) France
32 Saikaku ichidai onna [The Life of Oharu] (Mizoguchi, 1952) Japan
33 Viaggio in Italia [Journey to Italy] (Rossellini, 1953) Italy
34 Gojira [Godzilla] (Honda, 1954) Japan
35 La Strada (Fellini, 1954) Italy
36 Ukigumo [Floating Clouds] (Naruse, 1955) Japan
37 Pather Panchali [Song of the Road] (Ray, 1955) India
38 Daddy Long Legs (Negulesco, 1955) USA
39 The Proud Ones (Webb, 1956) USA
40 Bakumatsu taiyoden [Sun in the Last Days of the Shogunate] (Kawashima, 1957) Japan
41 The Young Lions (Dmytryk, 1957) USA
42 Les Cousins [The Cousins] (Chabrol, 1959) France
43 Les Quarte Cents Coups [The 400 Blows] (Truffaut, 1959) France
44 A bout de Souffle [Breathless] (Godard, 1959) France
45 Ben-Hur (Wyler, 1959) USA
46 Ototo [Her Brother] (Ichikawa, 1960) Japan
47 Une aussi longue absence [The Long Absence] (Colpi, 1960) France/Italy
48 Le Voyage en Ballon [Stowaway in the Sky] (Lamorisse, 1960) France
49 Plein Soleil [Purple Noon] (Clément, 1960) France/Italy
50 Zazie dans le métro [Zazie on the Subway] [Zazie on the Underground] (Malle, 1960) France/Italy
51 L'Annee derniere a Marienbad [Last Year in Marienbad] (Resnais, 1960) France/Italy
52 What Ever Happened to Baby Jane? (Aldrich, 1962) USA
53 Lawrence of Arabia (Lean, 1962) UK
54 Melodie en sous-sol [Any Number Can Win] (Verneuil, 1963) France/Italy
55 The Birds (Hitchcock, 1963) USA
56 Il Deserto Rosso [The Red Desert](Antonioni, 1964) Italy/France
57 Who's Afraid of Virginia Woolf? (Nichols, 1966) USA
58 Bonnie and Clyde (Penn, 1967) USA
59 In the Heat of the Night (Jewison, 1967) USA
60 The Charge of the Light Brigade (Richardson, 1968) UK
61 Midnight Cowboy (Schlesinger, 1969) USA
62 MASH (Altman, 1970) USA
63 Johnny Got His Gun (Trumbo, 1971) USA
64 The French Connection (Friedkin, 1971) USA
65 El Espíritu de la colmena [Spirit of the Beehive] (Erice, 1973*) Spain
*the book says the Erice film was made in 1972.
66 Solyaris [Solaris] (Tarkovsky, 1972) Soviet Union
67 The Day of the Jackal (Zinneman, 1973) UK/France
68 Gruppo di famiglia in un interno [Conversation Piece] (Visconti, 1974) Italy/France
69 The Godfather Part II (Coppola, 1974) USA
70 Sandakan hachibanshokan bohkyo [Sandakan 8] (Kumai, 1974) Japan
71 One Flew Over the Cuckoo's Nest (Forman, 1975) USA
72 O, Thiassos [The Travelling Players] (Angelopoulos, 1975) Greece
73 Barry Lyndon (Kubrick, 1975) UK
74 Daichi no komoriuta [Lullaby of the Earth] (Masumura, 1976) Japan
75 Annie Hall (Allen, 1977) USA
76 Neokonchennaya pyesa dlya mekhanicheskogo pianino [Unfinished Piece for Mechanical Piano] (Mikhalkov, 1977) Soviet Union
77 Padre Padrone [My Father My Master] (P. & V. Taviani, 1977) Italy
78 Gloria (Cassavetes, 1980) USA
79 Harukanaru yama no yobigoe [A Distant Cry From Spring] (Yamada, 1980) Japan
80 La Traviata (Zeffirelli, 1982) Italy
81 Fanny och Alexander [Fanny and Alexander] (Bergman, 1982) Sweden/France/West Germany
82 Fitzcarraldo (Herzog, 1982) Peru/West Germany
83 The King of Comedy (Scorsese, 1983) USA
84 Merry Christmas Mr. Lawrence (Oshima, 1983) UK/Japan/New Zealand
85 The Killing Fields (Joffé, 1984) UK
86 Stranger Than Paradise (Jarmusch, 1984) USA/ West Germany
87 Dongdong de Jiaqi [A Summer at Grandpa's] (Hou, 1984) Taiwan
88 Paris, Texas (Wenders, 1984) France/ West Germany
89 Witness (Weir, 1985) USA
90 The Trip to Bountiful (Masterson, 1985) USA
91 Otac na sluzbenom putu [When Father was Away on Business] (Kusturica, 1985) Yugoslavia
92 The Dead (Huston, 1987) UK/Ireland/USA
93 Khane-ye doust kodjast? [Where is the Friend's Home] (Kiarostami, 1987) Iran
94 Bagdad Café [Out of Rosenheim] (Adlon, 1987) West Germany/USA
95 The Whales of August (Anderson, 1987) USA
96 Running on Empty (Lumet, 1988) USA
97 Tonari no totoro [My Neighbour Totoro] (Miyazaki, 1988) Japan
98 A un [Buddies] (Furuhata, 1989) Japan
99 La Belle Noiseuse [The Beautiful Troublemaker] (Rivette, 1991) France/Switzerland
100 Hana-bi [Fireworks] (Kitano, 1997) Japan

From Chapter 3 of A Dream is a Genius, ISBN 4-16-355570. Edited by Bungeishunju. © 1999 Bungeishunju. Akira Kurosawa discusses his top 100 films with his daughter, Kazuo. Kurosawa limits his choices to one film per director.

Translated by Noriyo Hoozawa-Arkenau

1. Broken Blossoms or The Yellow Man and the Girl, (D. W. Griffith, 1919)
"Lilian Gish. She's very neat and has very good manners, dosn't she? Dorothy Gish is her sister, but she is, eh, a little sexier. Lilian is a cute, innocent girl. It was therefore really painful for me to see her in the movie and I really hated him! In The Whales of August I saw her again and, I clearly saw that she had not changed at all. I mean: yes, she has become a grandma, but I was pretty surprised how cutely she has got old!"

2. Das Kabinett des Doktor Caligari (Robert Wiene, 1919)
"It's representative of German Expressionism. But one can enjoy it still nowadays. The scenery constructions are all built in Futuristic style, in a style of art. You know, one still can learn many, many things from such a work of these old times."

3. Dr. Mabuse, der Spieler (Fritz Lang, 1922)
"I saw it when I was a child, when Mr. Musei Tokugawa was working as a narrator. As you know, my brother was also a narrator of silent movies, and he brought me with him. It was a very interesting movie. The mysterious Dr. Mabuse, the master of disguise! By the way, it was at that time when I saw La Roue by Abel Gance. I still remember very vividly how a train running crazily was portrayed in a flashback. It was a great scene."

4. The Gold Rush (Charlie Chaplin, 1925)
"Chaplin was very talented as an actor as well. Do you know, comedies are most difficult to make. It's much easier to jerk tears from the audience. He, of course, was gifted as a director as well, well-versed in music. I think he was so gifted that he himself didn't know what he should do with his own talents. Well, Beat Takeshi reminds me a little of him."

5. La Chute de la Maison Usher (Jean Epstein, 1928)
"As you know, it's a silent movie, i.e. it consists of pictures alone. But seeing it I felt as if I really heard something. That power of expression. Simply wonderful. And before I start to make a movie, every time I try to imagine how I would have made this picture if it was a silent movie."

6. Un Chien Andalou (Luis Buñuel, 1928)
"The movie starts suddenly with a scene that portrayed how an eyeball was slashed with a razor! An impacting, intense scene. And the light of a lighthouse was glaring and dazzling... In this way they were vividly symbolizing the mental condition when one was diseased with rabies. From such Surrealistic techniques I learned many things when I was making Rashomon."

7. Morocco (Josef von Sternberg, 1930)
"This picture is just 'a movie': it has been produced on a very low budget, but they have shot, for example, the scene where the shadow was flickering very cleverly, changing the camera's position constantly, moving about. Very cleverly shot. I was really impressed."

8. Der Kongress Tanzt (Erik Charell, 1931)
"It's the first movie in that the technique of playback was used. Conversations go, interesingly, in the form of operetta and scenes flow very skilfully. A masterpiece. The movie again and again makes me realize that old movies still offer us many, many things to learn."

9. Die Dreigroschenoper (G. W. Pabst, 1931)
"Die Dreigroschenoper I would have loved to make! Indeed, many people have made Die Dreigroschenoper, haven't they? But Pabst's is definitely the best, I think. A great movie."

10. Leise Fliehen Meine Lieder (Willi Forst, 1933)
"A very sweet movie. I love it! They used Schubert's music very adroitly, and skilfully portrayed in the story why he could not compose from the third movement up. A very good movie."

11. The Thin Man (W. S. van Dyke, 1934)
"He's a master of action movies. No wonder that this movie runs with that good tempo. The original is Hammett's novel, you know? The pair and the dog were so popular that a series of sequels to it was made. But this first one is the most interesting."

12. Tonari no Yae-chan (Yasujiro Shimazu, 1934)
"Mr. Shimazu was called "Daddy Shimazu (Shimazu-oyaji)". He has worked his way up from 'practice' in the true sense, he had experiences as an assistant, was very solidly skilled. John Ford and/or Wyler, too, were such directors. Their movies were clearly different - how I should say..., eh..., in them I can 'smell' motion-picture-makers of old times, of good old times when movies were tasty."

13. Tange Sazen yowa: Hyakumanryo no tsubo (Sadao Yamanaka, 1935)
"Mr. Yamanaka has been, when he has been working as an assistant, very quiet, he has been always somehow in a reverie, mumbling something to himself... But when he once became a director, he suddenly got eloquent, proved himself to be amazingly talented. It's indeed a great loss for the Japanese movie industry that he died so young! Moreover, he didn't save his films rightly. I am so sorry for it that I feel angry! What the hell did he think?!"

14. Akanishi Kakita (Mansaku Iami, 1936)
"This movie of Mr. Itami is very innovative, he did, for example, make various experiments in it. A very, very interesting movie. It was very kind of him that he often approved my movies and/or gave pieces of advice to me. I was very, very glad."

15. La Grande Illusion (Jean Renoir, 1937)
"In this movie Stroheim, who has directed "Foolish wives", played a role. Of course the movie is great, but, above all, his presense as an actor was impactful in itself. Mr. Renoir, you know, came specially to see me when I have been in Paris, and he, although HE was a master and elder than I, said to me "I am glad to see you"! I was really abashed! Moreover, when I was going to go back home, he stood and followed me all the time till my car turned the corner. I was very very touched."

16. Stella Dallas (King Vidor, 1937)
""Women are strong. A mother does do everything for children's sake" - Barbara Stanwyck wonderfully portrayed it in this movie. The last scene almost brought me to tears. Years later I saw a singer named Bette Midler playing such a role. It was also pretty good. Well played!"

17. Tsuzurikata kyoushitsu (Kajiro Yamamoto, 1938)
"Mr. Yamakaji (Mr. Kajiro Yamamoto) was a really good teacher. At that time, when we all were terribly busy, Yama-san (Mr. Yamamoto) made me do everything for him. To be honest, I was not very pleased by it. But his wife once said me; Do you know? My husband was very delighted. He said, "Mr. Kurosawa is now competent to do really everything!" Only then I realised that Mr. Yamamoto has been teaching me all things one by one, by making me do everything - to edit, write, costume and make props. THAT MADE ME WHO I AM NOW. I am truly grateful"

18. Tsuchi (Tomu Uchida, 1938)
"This director had a very interesting career - I've heard that he had been once a bum! An actor he had been as well. An eccentric. Oh, yes, he had been, if I remember rightly, once also an assistant of a director who had been in Hollywood. Of course his 'big' movies are not bad, but I personally like his earlier works more, for example Kagiri naki zenshin. But, very unfortunately, almost none of his films are in existence anymore. I wish that they thought more seriously in Japan how to save films properly."

19. Ninotchka (Ernst Lubtisch, 1939)
"A very sophisticated movie. Garbo appeared in it, but she, here, unlike her former movies indeed, played comedy very well. I was surprised. Wilder wrote the screenplay, I remember. No wonder the dialogues are so good. Lubitsch has been working since the times of silent movies; he had made movies called 'cinema operettas'. Did you know? He was a very talented man."

20. Ivan Groznyy I (Sergei M. Eisenstein, 1944), Ivan Groznyy Part II: Boyarsky zagovor (Sergei M. Eisenstein, 1946)
"An acquaintance* of mine, who sent Rashomon to the Grand Prix in Venice and to whom I feel very obliged, recommended me once to see the celebration's scene in Ivan Grozny in colour. He said to me then that I also should make movies in colour. So, I saw it, and, indeed, I was amazed. Well, then, I used colours in Do desu ka den for the first time, and in Kagemusha I treated colours rightly. I wished that the acqaintance*, who already had died then, could have seen it. Then Mrs. William Wyler said: *He'll come (from heaven) to Cannes, Mr. Kurosawa. He'll come to see your movie!" Till then I usually avoided 'movie festivals', but since then I attend at least Cannes film Festival."

(Note*: In the Japanese text the acquaintance's name is given. Unfortunately the English equivalent could not be found at the time of the translation)

21. My Darling Clementine (John Ford, 1946)
"Everyone associates the name of John Ford with westerns, don't they? My darling Clementine is, say, a paragon of movie: A man, for example, who's riding on horseback and whose looks in itself is a poem, emerges at the just right moment in the movie. Wonderful."

22. It's a Wonderful Life (Frank Capra, 1946)
"A movie should, I'm convinced, make the audience be happy, feel well. This movie is just such one: it's full of good will, makes us feel warm and think that it's a wonderful thing to live. Typical of Capra."

23. The Big Sleep (Howard Hawks, 1946)
"In my opinion it's the most interesting one among Chandler's. It's difficult to make 'hard-boiled' movies, usually, but he has skilfully done it. No wonder, for he was a true movie-maker who had begun his career as a popman and worked his way up from there."

24. Ladri di biciclette (Vittorio de Sica, 1948)
"A pitiful story, isn't it? Everything in this movie, its 'colours' as well, again and again makes me feel tormented. This is a true representative of Neo-Realism. A wonderful movie, which established a certain cinematic style."

25. Aoi sanmyaku (Tadashi Imai, 1949)
"One's first movie is often his or her best. So they say that Aoi sanmyaku or Izu no odoriko is Mr. Imai's best, don't they?! Indeed, this movie of him is very fresh and lively, the scene in that Kama-san (Mr. Kamatari Fujiwara) appears is also pretty good. But his Nigorie is also wonderful, I think"

26. The Third Man (Carol Reed, 1949)
"He respectably well filmed a such complicated story. Its camera works are wonderful - I've learned much about camera works from this movie. A first-class movie which one can enjoy still nowadays. His "Odd man out" is also brilliant. This director is a very skillful movie maker with a documentary style."

27. Banshun (Yasujiro Ozu, 1949)
"His characteristic camera work was imitated by many dirctors abroads as well, i.e., many people saw and see Mr. Ozu's movies, right? That's good. Indeed, one can learn pretty much from his movies. Young prospective movie makers in Japan should, I hope, see more of Ozu's work. Ah, it was really good times when Mr. Ozu, Mr. Naruse and/or Mr. Mizoguchi were all making movies!."

28. Orphee (Jean Cocteau, 1949)
"Originally Jean Cocteau was a poet, wasn't he? His movie therefore is like a poem. The Grim Reaper, e.g., apears riding on a motorcycle! A very fantastical touch. His peculiar aestics is very interesting."

29. Karumen kokyou ni kaeru (Keisuke Kinoshita, 1951)
"It's one of the first coloured movies in Japan. A very interesting movie. Karumen [Carmen] and her companions all return home, making people fuss over them. The fuss was very well portrayed. I love this movie."

30. A Streetcar Named Desire (Elia Kazan, 1951)
"I met this director in Tokyo International Film Festival and thought very frank of him. His immediate coleagues, however, said that he was rather a difficult person. But as soon as I've found both of us hated to put on a tuxedo, it was clear that we were like-minded. We really enjoyed to talk with each other. His movies are called 'social' or 'sociological', aren't they? Well, this movie is a good work that has,say, a solid core."

31. Therese Raquin (Marcel Carne, 1952)
"Carne is famous, above all, for "Les enfants du paradis", isn't he? This movie is a smaller piece, but I love it - it was shot in very cool eyes, and shows how important a solid screenplay for a movie is."

32. Saikaku ichidai onna (Kenji Mizoguchi, 1952)
"We often said in joke "Mr. Mizoguchi must have undergone terribly bitter experiences with women!". I could never portray women in THAT way! Indeed, a cold shiver ran up my spine! The movie is incredible, its art as well, and its long shots as well. From Mizo-san (= Mr. Mizoguchi) I've learned pretty much."

33. Viaggio in Italia (Roberto Rossellini, 1953)
"He's one of the most important representatives of Italian Realism. But also representatives of Nouvelle Vague, Godard and/or Truffaut, e.g., made a model of him. Did you know it? His way of pursuing bare truth was really fresh. I also was very benefited by his work."

34. Gojira (Ishiro Honda, 1954)
"Mr. Honda is really an ernest, nice fellow. Imagine, e.g., what you would do if a monster like Godzilla emerges! Normally one would forget and abandon his duty and simply flee! You won't? But the personell in this movie properly and sincerely lead people, don't they? That is typical of Mr. Honda. I love it. Well, he was my best friend. As you know, I am a pretty obstinate and demanding person. Thus, that I had never problems with him was due to HIS good personality."

35. La Strada (Federico Fellini, 1954)
"Fellini's cinematgraphic art is excellent. It's in itself 'fine art'. Nowadays no one has such a peculiar talent more... One feels in his movies, say, an existential power, which has a strong impact. Well, I met him several times, but he was so shy that he didn't talk about his movies to me."

36. Ukigumo (Mikio Naruse, 1955)
"He was a truly severe person. When he, e.g., didn't like an actor's performance, he said simply "No" and nothing more, sat silent. It was hard for the actor, of course, because he or she must think all by him-/herself and try various performances by himself. I, compared with him, am not earnest enuogh - I cannot help giving instructions to actors and cann't let them think by themselves... Thus, actors disciplined by Mr. Ozu, Mr. Naruse and/or Mr. Mizoguchi were all really competent and could by themselves play rightly even if I said nothing."

37. Pather Panchali (Satyajit Ray, 1955)
"I feld I rightly understood his work, when I saw Satyajit Ray: His eyes were like lynx's, ah, he was a majestic gentleman! In Venice Film Festival my "Kumonosu-jo" has lost to his "Pather Pancheli", hasn't it? But, I guarantee you, that was ABSOLUTELY right!."

38. Daddy Long Legs (Jean Negulesco, 1955)
"It has missed an Oscar, but I like this movie. Some people may be surprised that I like this picture, but, indeed, it was pretty well shot. I like it, maybe, also because I admire people like Fred Astaire, for I am so clumsy. But, well, to be honest, it's because, above all, I like the actress Leslie Caron."

39. The Proud Ones (Robert D. Webb, 1956)
"The theme song sung by Lionel Newman was a hit at that time. It's brilliant. Robert Ryan has a just fitting role, the camera works are wonderful as well - Lucian Ballard is trully a model camera man, I think."

40. Bakumatsu taiyo den (Yuzo Kawashima, 1958)
"This is an interesting, really enjoyable movie with a very good tempo. A rakugo* piece "Inokori Saheiji (= Saheiji, who reminded)" and another piece were arranged for this movie. Really well done. This director was very good at making commedies. It means his skill stands out from others'."

(Note: rakugo* is one of Japanese tradiotional stage arts, 'art of talk'. It is, besides No-theatre and Kabuki, one of the most important theatre arts in Japan, performed by one rakugo-talker on the stage.)

41. The Young Lions (Edward Dmytryk, 1957)
"It's a Cinema Scope. They shot dramatical battle scenes in a sharp, black-white contrast. Beautiful. This director is, I see, a hard proffesionalist, who has resolutely worked his way up."

42. Le Cousins (Claude Chabrol, 1959)
"It's a little strange picture shot from a pessimistic view. He's a pretty skilful director - his "Les liens de sang", e.g., is one of the best pictures filmized Ed McBain's novels."

43. Les Quatre Cents Coups (Francois Truffaut, 1959)
"This Truffault's movie is brilliant, don't you think so? He let children very convincingly play. I openly praised it at that time, but it was hardly premiered, before it was withdrawed. I suspect that it was due to its that inept Japanese title "Otona wa wakatte kurenai (= The adults don't understand us children)"."

44. A bout de souffle (Jean-Luc Godard, 1959)
"He's a very productive movie maker. But he shows his talent in the fact that all of his movies keep a steady, high quality. When I saw "A bout de souffle", it looked really fresh - nowadays it may look not so fresh more - for many people meanwhile have imitated its style, e.g., in American New Cinemas. But, I want to emphasize, they should do their own new experiments as well, or the cinema will not develop further more."

45. Ben-Hur (William Wyler, 1959)
""Ben-Hur"'s climax scene, it MUST be shot in a 70mm, or it would never have been that exciting. 6 sound sources recorded with 6 recorders were reproduced in it, and one feel as if one really was involved there in the movie! Brilliantly shot."

46. Ototo (Kon Ichikawa, 1960)
"Its camera work is superb. I remember, it won a prize for picture in Cannes, right? Pretty many takes were shot. Mrs. Natto (The screen play writer Natto Wada, Kon Ichikawa's wife) must have strongly supported him. His "Tokyo Orinpikku [Olynpic Games in Totkyo]" was harshly criticized by some people, but I thought it was a good picture, a typical picture of Kon-chan [Mr. Kon]."

47. Une aussi longue absense (Henri Colpi, 1960)
"He's an authority on edit. It is his first movie, I think. A crazy story - a man, who has passed in front of a café, was like the heroine's husband as two eggs. That scene was really impressive. Well, movie editors very well know that a movie exists BETWEEN the sequences. He also does."

48. Le voyage en ballon (albert Lamorisse, 1960)
"Such a picture, a specialist alone could shoot it. The last scene is especially good; the scene in that the child was following it further and further. The director put his own child to be the lead actor and let him do pretty dangerous things... "I only later realized it and thought, "Oh my God, what I have done!"", he himself said once."

49. Plein soleil (Rene Clement, 1960)
"This picture is very easy to approach, it's a typical 'movie'. One could very well begin watching movies with this one, right? One can very well see what the hero feels, can't one? Its last, which goes on with a pretty clever tempo, is brilliant as well."

50. Zazie dans le métro (Louis Malle, 1960)
"I thought it was a very sophisticated picture. Accompanied with a whistled melody, the story is portrayed in the eyes of the heroine's child - this director, indeed, uses children very adroitly, in "Au revoir, les enfants", too. His "Milou en mai" is also characteristic of him and interesting."

51. L'année derniere á Marienbad (Alain Resnais, 1960)
"He's a pioneer of Nouvelle Vague. This picture filmized a novel written by an author, eh, in my memory, named Robbe-Grillet. It caused hot discussions on itself. This movie is not very easy to approach - various oppositional notions, e.g., 'now vs. past' and/or 'reality vs. unreality', are presented in it. But its expressional methods very much stimulated my interest."

52. What Ever Happened to Baby Jane? (Robert Aldrich, 1962)
"Even when she was young, Bette Davis had a funny face. A very attractive. She was also beautiful in "Jezebel" (1938), and excellent in "All about Eve" as well. I liked them. In this movie, too, she is fantastic, isn't she? She was not really that old at all, but her performance was terrifically convincing. In "The whales of August" she was really a grandma, but she, of course, was still brilliant, wasn't she?"

53. Lawrence of Arabia (David Lean, 1962)
"It's a masterpiece of 70 mms, I think. When the camels suddanly went wild and O'Toole was injured, Lean, I've heard, wanted FIRST to know if he could still play! "How merciless!", O'Tool moaned. But, eh, I can very well see what a director feels and thinks, when he is working in full swing. But wait! Me, I am more tender."

54. Mélodie en sous-sol (Henri Verneuil, 1963)
"This director is a first-class suspense maker. It's thrilling! The use of the music is also nice, modern. And he used Delon and Gabin very cleverly - they well and clearly portrayed their characters. Its monochromic pictures were also very sharply shot. Excellent."

55. The Birds (Alfred Hitchcock, 1963)
"In Hitchcock's movies, mysteries, one sometimes finds slight inconsequences in the story. But, I think, it would be also a right opinion that movies should only be enjoyable. Well, I, I dread that many birds! Indeed, how did they shoot those scenes?!"

56. Il deserto rosso (Michelangelo Antonioni, 1964)
"Once I've ridden on an elephant with him at an Indian film festival. Journalist fussed over that 'two severe directors were together riding on an elephant', but we are NOT severe at all. Journalists watch us only when we are angry and they amuse themselves with it. "It's unfair", we talked each other. Indeed, how can one ALWAYS be angry, eh!? And now, in this movie, e.g., a scarlet room was very impressively used, and one can see clearly his talent in it."

57. Who's Afraid of Virginia Woolf? (Mike Nichols, 1966)
"Elizabeth Taylor is terrific, isn't she? This true beauty plays that hideous woman, without regard to her looks, doesn't she? To Japanese actresses, too, it may not be the most important matter that their appearance is simply beautiful. They, even big stars as well, should follow her professionalism, I hope."

58. Bonnie and Clyde (Arthur Penn, 1967)
"When I've once visited USA, he welcomed me very kindly. When he was going to make "Two on a seesaw", he asked me if I could recommend anyone, and I recommended Kamatari Fujiwara. Unfortunately, this movie was not presented in Japan, but it was a very neat, little piece. When Kama-san [Mr. Kamatari] wanted to know why I recommended him, I said mockingly "because there was no dialogue text for you!". Then we burst into laughter."

59. In the Heat of the Night (Norman Jewison, 1969)
"The original novel is also brilliant, but the movie has filmized it very skillfully, hasn't it? I love Sidney Poitier. I love his intelligent eyes. In the region where the racism is still deeply rooted, the case is being snappily cleared. The audience feel indeed satisfied."

60. The Charge of the Light Brigade (Tony Richardson, 1968)
"This movie did not especially come up. But I thought it was a very nice picture. In it even the finest details were well portrayed - e.g., in the battlefield, where people after people were dying, one heard a fly's buzz."

61. Midnight cowboy (John Schlesinger, 1969)
"He's from UK, but he nevertheless very well portrayed an atmosphere of disease in New York City, didn't he? The actors, of course, performed brilliantly, and it made me think about what it would bring to live in such a run-down metropolis. Very depressing, isn't it?"

62. M*A*S*H (Robert Altman, 1970)
"Interesting. It looks 'messy', but, I saw, the screenplay is very solid. A black-comedy nicely made. Later I've heard that the author of the original was a surgeon. No wonder that the matters were concretly, objectively and therefore interestingly portrayed. This is also a kind of anti-war-movie, isn't it?"

63. Johnny Got his Gun (Dalton Trumbo, 1971)
"There are many anti-war-movies. But it is very difficult to shoot battle scenes, for if one simply shot, as many people actually do, scenes in that soldiers are firing, they would look brave and thus the war could be glorified. In this sense, this picture is a true ant-war movie."

64. The French Connection (William Friedkin, 1971)
"I remember that it was, so to speak, a pioneer of 'car-chase-movies', and that cars were chasing cars at breakneck speed in it. Action scenes were terrific. Enjoyable it was! In any case, most of American movies at that time consisted in pretty good part of car scenes, in great detail portrayed - how one opens the door, get in and drive out of the parking lot and so on... If one cut away those car scenes the movies would shrink to about two thirds, I always say."

65. El espiritu de la colmena (Victor Erice, 1972)
"At first glance it's a sweet piece, but really it is a wonderous, very horrific story - the cruelity children have was skillfully portrayed. And the children were well performing. The lighting and camera work had a very fine touch. A nice movie."

66. Solyaris (Andrei tarkovsky, 1972)
"We were very good friends. He was like a little brother for me. We once, drunk in Dom Kino, sang together "Shichinin no samurai"'s theme music. His expression of 'water', the way in that water is depicted, is really peculiar to him. This picture indeed makes me feel myself yearning to return to the earth."

67. The Day of the Jackal (Fred Zinneman, 1973)
"The method with that the movie follows in very composed eyes how the hero is carrying out every preparation for an assassination one by one is, so to speak, without fat, I mean, brief and clear. A very thrilling touch."

68. Gruppo de famiglia in un interno (Luchino Visconti, 1974)
"Visconti is a true blue blood. Whether because he was raised in such an environment or simply because of his blue-blood birth, he had a touch that none but he can have. I met him several times, but he was a hardly approachable person. If someone, e.g., during the shooting came in, he, I've heard, shouts at him in an aristocratic posture "leave from here!". He is a very severe person, I've heard."

69. The Godfather Part II (Francis Ford Coppola, 1974)
"Among the Godfather trilogy I like "Part II" the best. The cold-hearted atmosphere, the terrible atmosphere in the family was very well depicted. It, accompanied with THAT music, really horrified my heart."

70. Sandakan hachiban shokan bokyo (Kei Kumai, 1974)
"We dined together, I remember, immediately before or after this movie. He was a very quiet, earnest person and liked to make movies that treated social issues. I therfore was surprised to see in this film that he was really competent also in portraying women. Kinuyo Tanaka was excellent. His "Umi to dokuyaku" is also brilliantly made. I am 'afraid of' such a story, but he, he could depict it! He must have a very strong personality, doesn't he?"

71. One Flew Over the Cukoo's Nest (Milos Forman, 1975)
"Ah, so many actors perform 'too' brilliantly! How painful experiences everyone has in his life - so painful that they have got mentaly that diseased... The actors portrayed it so skillfuly, I simply admired it. That nurse is also teeeerrific!"

72. O Thiassos (Theodoros Angelopoulos, 1975)
"He's a wonderful person. What he says makes one feel as if one's deepst soul is looked into by him. A true mature adult one could call him. Especially this picture was nothing less than 'mature eyes', wasn't it?"

73. Barry Lyndon (Stanley Kubrick, 1975)
"He made many masterpieces. I've heard that this picture was shot in the light of candles with highly sensitive films and special lenses. And he had got wonderful, very beautiful pictures. His experiments absolutely succeeded."

74. Daichi no komoriuta (Yasuzo Masumura, 1976)
"This movie is pretty well made. Above all, Mieko Harada was brilliant. I was convinced that the actress was going to better her skill further. It was why I used her in "Ran", and, look, her Lady Kaede earned a big reputation abroad. She brilliantly did it, I think."

75. Annie Hall (Woody Allen, 1977)
"Watching Woody Allen's pictures one clearly see that he's terrifically intellectual. Eh, I was afraid that he did not like my movies, for my movies are simple and are not such ones. But then Richard Gere told me Allen was my fan. I was very pleased!"

76. Neokonchennaya pyesa dlya mekhanicheskogo pianino (Nikita Mikhalkov ,1977)
"Nikita is a very eloquent, lively man like a white bear, but shoots really, truly delicate pictures. Watch, e.g., his "Oci ciornie" and then the director himself! One could not believe THAT man really made THAT movie. In any case, he's full of power and talent."

77. Padre Padrone (Paolo & Vittorio Taviani, 1977)
"Those two brother-directors' movie is not only a wonderful picture in itself, but also based on a very difficult original. That intellectuality is, of course, wonderful, but moreover - uh, I cannot find the word for it - one feels oneself shaken from the deepst bottom of the earth. Terrific, isn't it? Indeed, a movie earns wideness and depth in various sense if brothers cooperated in directing, right? I envy them."

78. Gloria (John Cassavetes, 1980)
"When I saw "Shadows", because it was a very nice picture, I wanted to praise it. Bur he was so shy that he was somehow embarrased and fled. His movies were not presented in Japan for long time, and I all the time concerned about him. But now, look, I was right, he showed himself to be very talented! This picture is one of my favourite Cassavetes'. Gena Rawlands' performance is also great. I was really sad to lose such a big talent. He was still so young!"

79. Haruka naru yama no yobigoe (Yoji Yamada, 1980)
"I said to Mr. Yamada himself that one cannot praise enough that he succeeded in continuing to make the Torajiro-series throughout. It would be possible only if every characters in it was perfectly established and described. Well, this picture is, so to speak, "Shane"* á la Japanese, isn't it?. Very well made."

(Note*: The theme music of "Shane" (composed by Victor Young), which is very popular in Japan, is named "Haruka naru yama no yobigoe" [Call of mountains from far away] in Japan. I cannot imagine that the movie's title has nothing to do with the theme music. Therefore Kurosawa, I think, mentioned "Shane" here.)

80. La Traviata (Franco Zeffirelli, 1982)
"It filmized an opera. Do you know how difficult it is? I was also asked once by Seiji Ozawa if I could direct an opera. 'But I am a movie director, I cannot do it', I declined. Zeffirelli, on the other hand, has been working on the stage. No wonder that art, lighting, and costuming are all brilliant. Very beautiful picture."

81. Fanny och Alexander (Ingmar Bergman, 1982)
"It's a long movie, follows a night throughout. Of course the camera and art succeeded in presenting an excellent colour. But, above all, the small episodes, which let me imagine in what environment he had been raised, are interesting. I love his "Smultronstället" and/or "Jungfrukällan" as well."

82. Fitzcarraldo (Werner Herzog, 1982)
"I am sorry that not many people have seen this movie yet. In it they go on a steamboat in the Amazon River upwards, pull the boat up on a hill and then lower it. What a hard work! The energy with that they really did it is well visible in the picture. By the way, it was before I saw the movie when I've met him. He, a very conscientious person, said that he wanted to give me a book but he unfortunately was going to depart that day. But he came to me the next day again! He said that he has canceled the air plane to find and hand me the book. "Here you are, I've found it!", he said. 'Such an earnest person well could make such a movie', I thought when I later saw his movie."

83. The King of Comedy (Martin Scorsese, 1983)
"Scorsese is, of course, a very good director and actor, but he is above all a wonderful person. He's energetically wrestling with various matters, e.g., how films, especially colour films could be kept undameged, he also looks after retired movie makers. He is, so to speak, a bundle of energy. The Japanese movie industry also would need such a person, I think."

84. Merry Christmas, Mr. Lawrence (Nagisa Oshima, 1983)
"With Mr. Oshima I discussed many issues, e.g., the issue of film directors' associations. Many people say that he is impatient or so, but he really is a very consistant, earnest person. 'I rely on you to develop Japanese movies', I said him several times when we dined together. This picture must have been a very hard work, for he's a person who cannot save work at all. The cast is also pretty interesting. A really skilled film maker he is!"

85. The Killing Fields (Roland Joffe, 1984)
"It's a story about the civil war in Cambodia. They brainwash even that little children. Can human being get so insane that they themselves don't see at all what they are doing? Isn't it horrific!? And wars justify such an insanity. Horrific. Well, the Cambodian guide was very natural, nicely performed, and brilliant."

86. Stranger than Paradise (Jim Jarmusch, 1984)
"I did not meet him yet, but I was very very pleased to see such an interesting talent. I watched his movies all on rental videos. This movie is made according to the principle 'one-scene-one-shot'. The spaces between the sequences are brilliant: They are connected with darks, and there, BETWEEN the sequences, one really feels oneself seeing a movie! I'm looking forward to seeing his future. And this movie, in which some old films are also used, tells us that it is a talent to be able to shoot a good movie even on a not very high budget."

87. Dongdong de jiaqi (Hou Hsiao-Hsien, 1984)
"He made also big pictures, e.g., "Beiqing chengshi" ("A city of sadness"). In the movie there are some points that one could not easily understand without thorough historical knowledge, but he has very sincere eyes. A wonderful movie maker. He reminds me of the times when Japanese movie industry was still seriously shooting pictures. I really love this movie. A very pleasant piece. I'm looking forwards to see his future."

88. Paris, Texas (Wim Wenders, 1984)
"When "Hachi-gatsu no kyoshikyoku" was premiered in Japan, I had a talk with him. There he forgot that it was an interview for a magazine, and asked me about practical, technical matters only, e.g., "Mr. Kurosawa, you let it rain really beautifully. How do you shoot it?" or so... To be honest, for me also such topics are more welcome, and we discussed it further. But the editors were pretty embarrassed."

89. Witness (Peter Weir, 1985)
"His "Picnic at Hanging Rock" also presents a wonderful colour and very interested me. This movie's story is described in a particular world, but the story, presenting the particular life so well that we outsiders can comprehend it, goes very tidily. Yes, it's a very tidy movie, so to speak, built on a solide foundation."

90. The Trip to Bountiful (Peter Masterson, 1985)
"Even a movie whose motif is a pretty small matter can be such a tidy picture. This movie is a very good example of that one can make a quality film without spending big money. I hope for many young people to see it."

91. Otac na sluzbennom putu (Emir Kustarica, 1985)
"I was astonished when I saw his work for the first time. He's from Yugoslavia, is still very young. He nevertheless shoots wonderful pictures all with composure. Very skilled. His pictures came up also in Cannes. "We must not be lazy, for so many great talents apear one after another from various countries.", we talked."

92. The Dead (John Huston, 1987)
"A black coach and black horses emerge. That is the shadow of death. He shot this movie being supplied with oxygen, in such a condition he made it. No wonder that the picture is somehow demonic and horrific. When he, who was cross with the tops of the film production, was going to die, he shouted "Do you have a gun?! OK, let's kill them!", and then he died, I heard."

93. Khane-ye doust kodjast (Abbas Kiarostami, 1987)
"I met him, and, as every good director is, he was a really nice person. I wondered how he could shoot such a movie, for all characters were so ordinary, natural, and convincing. I asked him. He said, he makes the people, because they are all laymen, REALLY think that they should finish the wash and/or do homework, and then he let them perform it."

94. Out of Rosenheim (Percy Adlon, 1987)
"My Children recommended that I should see this movie, for it, they said, really interesting. Indeed, I really enjoyed it!! The use of colour is brilliant, from it one can learn something. The actors are also very natural. And it somehow reminded me of "Donzoko"... In any case, I say, that is 'a movie'! It was so interesting that I saw it two times successively."

95. The Whales of August (Lindsay Anderson, 1987)
"When I won a prize in U.K., I met him as a critic. He also shoots nonfictions - he has insightful, reliable eyes, right? I did not expect that he would begin shooting films, but I was not surprised when I saw that his "If..." was a good movie. And "The Whales of August" definitely convinced me of his talent."

96. Running on Empty (Sidney Lumet, 1988)
"That scene! The scene that portrayed how the car's door suddenly opened and he*, who was going to leave the town, left the dog there is wonderful. Lumet is one of my best friends, a friendly 'uncle' who is always smiling. But his pictures on NY's detectives, in a hard-boiled touch, are horrifically serious. By the way, the NY's block is very wide, isn't it? So he runs round on rollersketes. His assistant director could not follow him, ran into a toy shop to buy rollerskates, and thus could catch up with him. The second assistant, however, could not buy anything because rollerskates were sold out. The poor man must run after him on his own legs. He cheerfully told it himself to me."

(Note*: In Japanese Text it is not given who was going to leave. But I think that it is 'the family's eldest son' as it is given in Imdb, so I added the pronoun 'he' to the sentence. (In Japanese sentences the grammatical subject is very often omitted....))

97. Tonari no Totoro (Hayao Miyazaki, 1988)
"It's an animation, but I was deeply moved. I really liked that 'cat bus', for no one else would think up such a thing! His "Majo no takkyuubin" actually made me weep. Indeed, many talents nowadays whom I would have loved to kept for movies have gone to the animation industry... We, the movie industry, must not be lazy - we must make pictures that stimulate young talents' interest in movies."

98. A-un (Yasuo Furuhata, 1989)
"We know Shinobu Hashimoto (art) really for a long time, don't we? She and Yoshiro Muraki (art) have fallen in love and used to sit closely side by side in an open set. I know them ever since... Her art is really good, isn't it? That old good time when we were all so is unforgettable. Kuniko Mukoda wrote really solide scenarios... I am so sorry about her... By the way, the Mrs. in "A-un" is a little similar to my Kiyoko, isn't she?"

99. La Belle Noiseuse (Jacques Rivette, 1991)
"I actually would have liked to make the movie. Its original is Balzac's novel. A first-rate artist can see what we cannot see. I, e.g., paint quickly and carelessly, but an artist doesn't do it. He can hardly satisfy himself because he sees far more various things. That difficult theme was very nicely filmized."

100. Hana-Bi (Takeshi Kitano, 1997)
"I am convinced of his talent since I saw "Sono otoko, kyobo ni tsuki". The first works of a talented person often seem to be a little incoherent because the author tries many experiments in them, because he is sparkling with talent. In this movie there are some pretty daring portrayals, audaciously intruding in the matters. I really enjoyed it. Every character's existence is competently depicted. Wonderful."

Please excuse any errors, English is not Mr Hoozawa-Arkenau's native tongue. I did at one time properly edit the list, although that version has now disappeared now that I have abandoned plans to put together a Kurosawa website. I hope that readers will still enjoy Kurosawa's comments.

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#3 Post by Michael Kerpan » Sat Oct 27, 2007 11:08 am

Thank you so much. It's a lovely list -- and it is great having this available.


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#4 Post by teddyleevin » Sat Oct 27, 2007 1:19 pm

Oh wow. That is amazing. He's my favorite director, and its quite an experience to read his thoughts like this. Thank you very much!

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#5 Post by Jeff » Sat Oct 27, 2007 1:45 pm

What a great read. That list's existence is worthwhile if only for the images of Kurosawa riding on an elephant with Antonioni and getting drunk and singing the theme from Seven Samurai with Tarkovsky.

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#6 Post by exte » Sat Oct 27, 2007 2:09 pm

Very powerful. Very informative. Sometimes this forum is just plain amazing. THANK YOU!

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#7 Post by Darth Lavender » Sat Oct 27, 2007 2:17 pm

A lot of my favourites there. The guy has good taste ;-)

Seriously, though, great list & comments. I just browsed it, copy/pasted to read it all properly later (and check up any films I haven't seen)

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#8 Post by HerrSchreck » Tue Nov 20, 2007 11:07 am

Jeff wrote:What a great read. That list's existence is worthwhile if only for the images of Kurosawa riding on an elephant with Antonioni and getting drunk and singing the theme from Seven Samurai with Tarkovsky.
I'm pretty sure that same story about he and AT was mentioned (and elaborated on much further, if anyone is interested) in the Kurosawa notes excerpted in the liner notes to SOLARIS.
Swithun wrote:I'm interested in getting into Kurosawa. I was wondering though where to start and thought you all could give me some advice? My current favourite directors are Welles, Hitchcock, Nolan and Lean.
You should probably start in one of the two spots that most of the western world started. Either like people of AK's day were first introduced to him in the west, which was via RASHOMON, which was his first big splash outside of Japan. Or you could go with the old standard which is most folks route into AK nowadays, which is SEVEN SAMURAI. It's a fantastic, endlessly rewarding and without doubt his most historically important/everlasting film.

From there thread through his undisputed masterpieces: REDBEARD (a personal favorite of mind), the fantastic THRONE OF BLOOD, stunning HIGH AND LOW, the cooler than cool YOJIMBO, the beautifully moving though occasionally hyper-emo (at least to me) IKIRU, the superimpressive acting tour-de-force THE LOWER DEPTHS, the very cool DRUNKEN ANGEL and STRAY DOG. Then work your way out from there. Drop a tab and watch DODESKA'DEN. Choo Choooooo!!!

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#9 Post by fiddlesticks » Tue Nov 20, 2007 11:42 am

It's funny; I was watching The Bad Sleep Well last night (a first-time viewing), and loving it, and contemplating my own Tour d'Kurosawa. Like most, my Kurosawa introduction was via Rashomon and Seven Samurai, and my reactions to those films were pretty much 'eh.' I suppose I was put off by Mifune's tiresome antics in these films, and thinking that Kurosawa=Mifune, I had no strong desire to dig any deeper.

After some time, while pursuing my passion for Hara Setsuko, I rented a perfectly awful copy of No Regrets for Our Youth and bought a good copy of The Idiot, and while neither film made me a Kurosawa convert, both made me reconsider my stance on Kurosawa. Then I got my hands on The Lower Depths, Red Beard, and High and Low, marvelous films all, and now for me there's no going back. Today I own more DVDs of Kurosawa films than all but a small handful of directors, and I love Mifune (at least, the Mifune of Scandal, Red Beard, The Bad Sleep Well, etc.)

I'll probably go back and re-evaluate Rashomon and Seven Samurai some day soon, but I wonder how I'd have felt if my introduction to his oeuvre had been through High and Low.

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#10 Post by Michael Kerpan » Tue Nov 20, 2007 11:47 am

fiddlesticks wrote:After some time, while pursuing my passion for Hara Setsuko, I rented a perfectly awful copy of No Regrets for Our Youth and bought a good copy of The Idiot, and while neither film made me a Kurosawa convert, both made me reconsider my stance on Kurosawa. Then I got my hands on The Lower Depths, Red Beard, and High and Low, marvelous films all, and now for me there's no going back. Today I own more DVDs of Kurosawa films than all but a small handful of directors, and I love Mifune (at least, the Mifune of Scandal, Red Beard, The Bad Sleep Well, etc.)
You could have been writing my story. I never would have given Kurosawa a second chance ha d I not become fanatically devoted to Setsuko Hara. Red Beard and Lower Depths (and Idiot) are also among my favorites. Rashomon still remains comparatively unloved...

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#11 Post by Tommaso » Tue Nov 20, 2007 12:19 pm

We often went through the discussion of the individual likes and dislikes concerning Kurosawa's films. Everyone seems to disagree or at least have different favourites. I love "Rashomon" but am not a huge fan of "Seven Samurai", for instance. Considering that your favourite directors are all westerners, I'd also suggest you start with those films that had the greatest impact on the western world and western filmmakers, so indeed "Seven Samurai" or "Yojimbo", or if you're familiar with American crime/gangster films, you might want to see how Kurosawa transplanted the genre into a Japanese context, i.e. "The bad sleep well" and "High and low"(no good disc of the latter one available, though). Or if you like Shakespeare or classic drama, go for "Ran", a film that makes me speechless every time I watch it and my favourite of all his works. But I know that others disagree, which is an indication that basically all his works have something to fascinate all kinds of viewers in different ways.

In any case: watch whatever you find, but WATCH it. I can't think of many other directors working on such a consistently high level over such a long period of time. One of the very, very, very greatest masters of cinema.

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#12 Post by moviscop » Tue Jun 03, 2008 4:45 pm

I can't thank you enough for that list. Great reference!

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#13 Post by jojo » Wed Jun 11, 2008 4:25 pm

I find him to be something of a hit and miss director. I would have no problem with someone saying Kurosawa is a top 2 all-time director, but he isn't one of my favourites. I find myself largely ambivalent to his "samurai" films (at least, from the ones I've seen), but my enjoyment of his work increases substantially when he works within a 20th century setting. Whether that is a comment on my own specific interests or not, I cannot say.

I think what I respect most about him is that he's difficult to pin down. He takes chances. He has cojones. He'll take a stab at any genre and doesn't worry about whether he "should" try it or not. There are other people I like more--Ozu and Naruse, for instance--but I don't feel as if they take as many wild risks as Kurosawa. I guess this might be why he always seemed to be on the edge of poverty, but that's why I can respect him, even if I can't love everything in his library.

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#14 Post by Michael Kerpan » Wed Jun 11, 2008 9:25 pm

There are many Kurosawa films I love -- and a few I dislike a lot and others I am indifferent to. But I will say he has something to offer almost any movie fan -- if they just pick the right work(s).

I prefer the more "modern" films in general (but include Red Beard and Lower Depths in that category -- perhaps unhistorically).

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#15 Post by Tommaso » Thu Jun 12, 2008 6:25 am

jojo wrote: I find myself largely ambivalent to his "samurai" films (at least, from the ones I've seen), but my enjoyment of his work increases substantially when he works within a 20th century setting.
Same impression here. I guess most people start out with the period films because they are more easily available and are simply more famous. Of course I loved these as well, but having seen almost everything by Kuro now I'd also say that in the 'modern age' films his specific vision of the world, his humanity and occasional didacticism are represented in a clearer way, unhampered (wrong word, probably) by the constraints of 'action' that the samurai genre probably demands. But the samurai films all take a critical stance to the society depicted as well, and are thus also quite different from pure entertainment ware. But if they are seen as indictments of feudal society, I find Kobayashi's "Seppuku" and "Samurai Rebellion" much more radical (though I'm sure Michael will disagree here).

The only exceptions from the rule are "Throne of Blood" and "Ran", but I never saw them as samurai films, but rather as Shakespeare films first and foremost. For me they belong neither to the modern nor to the period films, but to a third aspect of Kuros work: literary adaptations, and perhaps these adaptations are the strongest films in all his canon, if I also think of "The Idiot" or indeed "The Lower depths". The latter increasingly becomes one of my very favourite Kuro films. But there's very little in all his work that I don't absolutely love.

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#16 Post by Michael Kerpan » Thu Jun 12, 2008 9:12 am

In terms of indicting samurai values, I prefer Yamanaka and Uchida to either Kurosawa or Kobayashi. I simply don't buy into the meme that Kobayashi did anything all that out of the ordinary thematically. (and Sybil Thornton's new "The Japanese Period Film" seems to more or less bear out my suspicion).

My problem with Kobayashi is not theme, however (his themes are just fine) but his style, For almost all Kurosawa through Red Beard, Kurosawa's film making prowess sweeps me off my (movie-watching) feet. This is truew even for films whose message (e.g. Yojimbo) seems pretty unappealing.

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#17 Post by Tommaso » Thu Jun 12, 2008 11:09 am

Michael Kerpan wrote:In terms of indicting samurai values, I prefer Yamanaka and Uchida to either Kurosawa or Kobayashi.
I haven't seen any Uchida, but as far as Yamanaka's "Paper Balloons" is concerned, I fully agree of course. I wonder why I didn't think of that film in the first place, probably because it comes from another period of filmmaking (modern as it is).
Michael Kerpan wrote: I simply don't buy into the meme that Kobayashi did anything all that out of the ordinary thematically.
I would agree here, too. I just find "Seppuku" a perhaps better antidote to more 'conventional', unpolitical period adventure films than the Kurosawa epics (because these still retain a lot of 'action'). The disagreement about Kobayashi's style (which I find much harder to define than Kuro's or Mizo's, for example) probably can't be overcome, but that was not what I was trying to get at.

What do you find unappealing about the message of "Yoyimbo", btw? I'm not sure whether it has too much of a message (basically a 'fun' picture, and as such rather unusual for Kurosawa), but in any case, I'd read that film as a conscious parody of heroism and samurai values; though the follow-up, "Sanjuro", is better in that respect in my view.

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#18 Post by Michael Kerpan » Thu Jun 12, 2008 11:41 am

I see Yojimbo as being funny only if one finds essentially mean-spirited nihilism funny. Mifune's character is (mostly) indifferent to right and wrong, simply enjoying causing chaos -- even at the expense of wrecking the whole town (punishing a lot more people than just the bad merchants presumably, though Kurosawa conveniently leaves collateral damage offscreen). It has (for me) an unpleasantly acrid tone. Sanjuro seems to exhibit Kurosawa's more-typical humanism -- perhaps because the redoubtable Takako Irie _makes_ Mifune take matters of life and death more seriously. ;~}

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#19 Post by essrog » Thu Jun 12, 2008 4:18 pm

Whoops. essrog will repost.

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#20 Post by Michael Kerpan » Thu Jun 12, 2008 4:30 pm

I thought Yojimbo was impressive to watch -- but no more palatable to me (ethically) than Dirty Harry. Kurosawa's perspective leaves me pretty queasy. I'll stick with the much more likeable (if less visually stunning) Sanjuro.

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#21 Post by HerrSchreck » Thu Jun 12, 2008 5:08 pm

Michael Kerpan wrote:I see Yojimbo as being funny only if one finds essentially mean-spirited nihilism funny.
lol modern Japanese tv & movies

Seriously however, I find the exact opposite in Yojimbo-- total comicbook innocence. Kindness (on one extreme) and nihilism (on the other) can probably only exist in a world where moral values are registered and in existence, and I think the whole point of a film like Yojimbo is to present a world devoid of these (wink) hinderances when contending with the heavy, whereby the supercoolest dude can just obliterate the baddies with impunity from both the law as well as humanist consideration for "what makes the bad person bad, which we must consider before rendering harsh judgement". Here the baddies are completely one dimensional, the "good" are cleansed of past and future and speak only when hungry or annoyed by cornball behavior, etc.

Its very specifically the alternate universe of Entertainment Unreality, and I think it's a mistake to take them too seriously in the moral sense, especially if the film isn't demonizing a real world political entity or racial group (like the Indy films) or silently patting imperialist behavior on the back in the guise of an "innocent comic book".

But then again I like sick senses of humor, etc. Provided they're funny yuk yuk yuk.

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#22 Post by Mr Sausage » Thu Jun 12, 2008 5:56 pm

Oddly enough, I didn't much like Yojimbo until I realized it was a comedy (as opposed to an action/thriller). I can't really share the sentiment that the movie rubs our noses in amoral slapstick brutality because the violence, when it occurs, is brief; and even then, the most horrific example of it (the massacre) occurs offscreen, leaving us with only the aftermath and the very real, moral sentiment of "what a waste." The movie does exaggerate evil into comic-book territory, but it doesn't take the idea of evil lightly; and I think that what was clean parody at the start becomes rather bleak satire at the end. When the one baddie left alive (the kid from the start) yells out "mommy!" and runs off, the moment as it plays out is less funny or grotesque, as we might expect, than pathetic (by which I mean pathos-filled, rather than lowly). I don't think the comic aspects ever prevent one from really feeling either pity or terror. Rather, the comedy puts those feelings into a different, although scarcely less moral, perspective. The villains may be cowards and hypocrites worth laughing at, but their actions are still capable of very real destruction and harm. The arrival of the Nakadai character shifts the tone of the film slightly, so as I said it becomes less parodistic, and less inclined to make fun, although it hardly looses its humour. Indeed, I would actually find its apocalyptic thrust far less palatable if it wasn't done in a comic vein, the loss of which would make it far closer to Ran, although without that film's tragic grandeur.

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#23 Post by HerrSchreck » Thu Jun 12, 2008 6:31 pm

Exactly.. though one should be quick to notice (because, after all it's Kurosawa.. and it's very easy to note when Kurosawa is truly Saying Something, i e Bemoaning The Sad World, etc) that simple employment of the film grammar of entertainment (exaggerated pathos during moments of tragedy, senses of despair to make tha arrival of the hero that much more satisfying, conversely cool bopping music to heighten the swaggering strut of the hero) doesn't mean the filmmaker is making a film beyond the bounds of Fun, Exaggerated Entertainment.

In other words, the punctuation of the films narrative unfolding with sad/serious moments doesn't neccessarily make it an "apocalyptic" or nihilist film. There is pain and suffering in a DC superman or popeye comic or film from the mid 20th century as well, but they're not nihilistic pieces: they're mere hypersimplified worlds of easy, mindless entertainment. On it's face the narrative of Yojimbo isn't awfully sophisticated, or original. Badass comes in to clean up the bad guys-- does so and struts off into sunset. Cue John Ford yawning.

For apocalyptic, cue Hells Hinges.

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#24 Post by essrog » Thu Jun 12, 2008 6:56 pm

Michael Kerpan wrote:I see Yojimbo as being funny only if one finds essentially mean-spirited nihilism funny. Mifune's character is (mostly) indifferent to right and wrong, simply enjoying causing chaos -- even at the expense of wrecking the whole town (punishing a lot more people than just the bad merchants presumably, though Kurosawa conveniently leaves collateral damage offscreen). It has (for me) an unpleasantly acrid tone.
This is a repost of my earlier post, which was accidentally deleted ...

I actually didn't worry too much about collateral damage, simply because every person working for the evil merchants was shown to be either evil and/or grotesque (like the wife of one of the bad guys who tells her son he should've killed himself instead of get captured). I thought that was one of the main points of the film -- that the world was so sick that it needed a superhero like Sanjuro to cleanse it. Also, Sanjuro did exercise moral judgment at points in the film, such as when he risked his life to save one family. The final showdown of the film is actually set up because Sanjuro found out that his one ally, the tavern keeper, was in danger, and he realized he must come out of hiding to save him.

I like what Stephen Prince wrote about Yojimbo in his book on Kurosawa -- that it was essentially a fantasy of a superhero delivering the world from evil, with the emphasis on fantasy. The fact that such a character as Sanjuro cannot exist lends the film a bit of sadness upon reflection, which is an emotion that all black comedies should elicit, I guess. I'm co-opting this idea from Prince, too, but I think Yojimbo serves as a bridge between films like Stray Dog, in which Kurosawa seriously examines and promotes the idea that individual choice can help heal a broken world, and Ran, in which individual choice doesn't matter since we're all fucked. Yojimbo shows us the possibility of individual heroism, but that heroism is mitigated by the fact that Sanjuro is a fantasy figure (and an incredibly flawed one at that) and that the world we see is so incredibly corrupt and evil.

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#25 Post by tryavna » Fri Jun 13, 2008 12:01 pm

I agree with both Schreck and Sausage that Yojimbo can only be properly enjoyed as a comedy/satire. (And there are plenty of brilliant satires that fit Michael's phrase "essentially mean-spirited nihilism." I'm thinking, for instance, of Evelyn Waugh's mid-1930s novels, like A Handful of Dust. There's a novel that would make me suicidal if it weren't so clearly meant to be funny.)

At the same time, and perhaps for the same reason, I actually prefer Okamoto's even more extreme/exaggerated Kill (which is based on the same source material as Kurosawa's Sanjuro -- just to make the connections even more complicated). Okamoto's film strikes me as following the basic idea that both he and Kurosawa are exploring in these films to its logical conclusion: the samurai myth as self-parody.

On the other hand, I don't think Kill actually has anything close to Yojimbo's finest scene: the one where Mifune, at gunpoint, keeps edging closer to his sword before Nakadai, realizing what Mifune's doing, very carefully moves the sword out of Mifune's reach. It's a wonderful non-verbal moment between two really charismatic film stars.

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