“Unless you know every aspect and phase of the film-production process, you can’t be a moviedirector. A movie director is like a front-line commanding officer. He needs a thoroughknowledge of every branch of the service, and if he doesn’t command each division, he cannot command the whole.” - Akira Kurosawa-
BIOGRAPHY Born March 23, 1910 in Tokyo Drunken Angel was his first Japan. personal expressive work (1948). Nicknames: The Emporer, Wind His film Rashomon introduced Man. Japanese cinema to the western At over 6 ft. tall, he was culture (1950). extremely large by Japanese Continued to direct films well standards. into his eighties. Started as a talented painter. Died September 6, 1998 in Tokyo Enrolled in an art school which Japan. emphasized Western styles. Began directing career in 1930 as an assistant director to Kajiro Yamamoto.
FILM TECHNIQUES & TRADE MARKS Frequently used the “wipe effect” to fade from one scene to another. -This effect later became famous due to its usage in the Star Wars trilogy. Use of weather to heighten mood, especially rain. Known for doing Shakespearean plays in Feudal Japanese settings. Portrays female characters as either sweet but weak and submissive or deceitful, evil and conniving. Portrays driven characters who frequently end up failing in the goals but ultimately learn hard won life lessons.
MAJOR INFLUENCES First major influence is a teacher named Tachikawa. - Tachikawa emphasized strong art education for the young. - This was Kurosawa’s first introduction to art and film. His brother Heigo was another major influence. His love for film was handed down to Akira. - Heigo loved film; he was a film narrator/commentator for foreign silent films. - His suicide deeply affected Kurosawa’s sensibilities and outlook on life. Akira worshipped legendary American Director John Ford - This was Akira’s primary influence as a filmmaker.
TOP KUROSAWA FILMS Seven Samurai (1954)- Described as one of the greatest and most influential films ever made.- The most technical, creative, and highest-grossing Japanese movie.- Winner of the Silver Lion award at the Venice Film Festival Ran (1985)- Kurosawa’s last epic film. Hailed for it’s powerful images and use of color.- The most expensive Japanese film ever produced at the time.- Nominated for the Academy Awards for art direction, cinematography, and costume design. Throne of Blood (1957)- Transposes the plot of William Shakespeare’s play Macbeth to feudal Japan.- Won the Kinema Junpo and MainichiFilm Concours award for best actor and actress.
OTHER TOP KUROSAWA FILMS Kagemusha (1980) Rashomon (1950) Yojimbo (1961) Sanjuro (1962) Madadayo (1993) The Hidden Fortress (1958)
OTHER ACCOMPLISHMENTS Voted the 6th greatest director of all time by Entertainment weekly - This made him the only Asian on a list of 50 directors and the highest ranking non-American. Ranked #6 in Empire (UK) magazine’s “The greatest directors ever” (2005) Made a Fellow of the British Film Institute in recognition of his outstanding contribution to film culture. Won an Oscar for Lifetime Achievement in 1989.