AKIRA KUROSAWA (1910-1998) and his influence in film

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©Film4

Born in Japan 1910 Kurosawa always knew he wanted to be a filmmaker. At the age of 26 after his brother died he was recruited by Japanese film studio PCL. Film became his life, making more than 30 films, working as an Assistant Director, and writing many screenplays.

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Rashomon (1950) ©Daiei Film

Rashomon (1950) winning the Golden Lion award became one of the biggest moments in Japanese film history. With an enormous amount of press worldwide it was the first time Japan had been viewed internationally in a great light after WWII. Startled by their success, Daiei Film Co. produced many subtitled versions for American and European countries and rereleased it worldwide. This meant that Rashomon was the first Japanese film to be seen and loved worldwide.

Seven Samurai (1954) and Yojimbo (1961) being his most influential works in Hollywood sees films such as The Magnificent Seven and A Fistful of Dollars deriving most of it’s style from them. Kurosawa was the most successful director to first use telephoto lenses for photography and the first to use slow motion in action sequences.

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Seven Samurai (1954) ©Toho

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Yojimbo (1961) ©Toho Studio

 

Kurosawa’s film generally follow 4 characteristics which make his films so unique:

1.Repetition:

In order to emphasise the dynamic nature of some scenes, Kurosawa will repeat various narrative elements.

2. Narrative Pauses:

For the audience to take time and reflect on the previous scene to be able to follow what happens next, Kurosawa uses the simple technique of long narrative pauses.

3. Other Influences:

As a fan of European and American film Kurosawa has adapted literature such as Shakespeare’s Macbeth for his film Throne of Blood (1957). John Ford being his greatest inspiration, Kurosawa is rumoured to draw upon many of Ford’s great westerns.

4. Humanism

His work is based on the goodness and dignity of human beings. The human spirit is often the main notion around Kurosawa’s films.

“Kurosawa was one of film’s true greats. His ability to transform a vision into a powerful work of art is unparalleled” – George Lucas 

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