Director’s Chair Introduction: Akira Kurosawa

by Tony Cogan · July 3, 2017 · Uncategorized · 2 Comments

Deadline: 29th July 2017

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Hello everyone, it’s time again to announce the director that will be featured for Director’s Chair. This month, after having watched Ran for my June Blind Spot, I feel that Akira Kurosawa would be a good choice for Director’s Chair.

Now, Akira Kurosawa is one of the key figures responsible for getting Japanese cinema recognition in the Western world through his film Rashomon. When it was originally released in Japan, Rashomon was only a moderate success, it gained its status after a representative from an Italian film company recommended that Rashomon be sent to compete in the Venice Film Festival, where it eventually won the Golden Lion. The success of Rashomon at the festival led to it getting a wide release in the US where it became a box office success, helping to open the door to other Japanese filmmakers to have their films exhibited in the US.

The success of Rashomon also highlights just how influential Kurosawa’s films have been in Western cinema. Most obviously elements of the plot for The Hidden Fortress were used in Star Wars and Seven Samurai was remade into The Magnificent Seven, but this influence can also be seen in TV with numerous shows doing episodes inspired by Rashomon including The Fresh Prince of Bel Air, Star Trek: The Next Generation, Batman: The Animated Series and so many other shows doing episodes inspired by Rashomon.

However, even though Kurosawa’s films were heavily influential in the US, his experience with the American film industry was on the more negative side, notably with Kurosawa being fired from directing the Japanese sequences of Tora! Tora! Tora! due to clashing with the producers, along with his script for Runaway Train being taken away from him after he had difficulties financing the film. However, Kurosawa was able to make a film in America with more creative control with Dreams, getting help from Steven Spielberg, Francis Ford Coppola, George Lucas and Martin Scorcese in dealing with the American studio system, with Scorcese also acting in the film.

What also stands out about the films of Kurosawa, particularly in his later years, is his use of colour, best exemplified in Ran through the use of bold primary colours, aided by Kurosawa painting his storyboards. This style gives Kurosawa’s films a visual power that very few other films hold. Speaking of Ran, Kurosawa’s later films are also pervaded by a sense of melancholy throughout, most notably with Ran, following the deaths of a number of key people during it’s production of natural causes, most tragically including his wife. This created a sense of grief and despair which gave Kurosawa’s later films a power that cannot be replicated due to it’s basis in reality.

With that brief history of the career of Kurosawa out of the way, here are the films that you can cover in any way you see fit, be it review, podcast whatever, send them over to

  • Sanshiro Sugata
  • The Most Beautiful
  • Sanshiro Sugata Part 2
  • The Men Who Tread on the Tiger’s Tail
  • No Regrets For Our Youth
  • One Wonderful Sunday
  • Drunken Angel
  • The Quiet Duel
  • Stray Dog
  • Scandal
  • Rashomon
  • The Idiot
  • Ikiru
  • Seven Samurai
  • I Live in Fear
  • Throne of Blood
  • The Lower Depths
  • The Hidden Fortress
  • The Bad Sleep Well
  • Yojimbo
  • Sanjuro
  • High and Low
  • Red Beard
  • Dodesukaden
  • Dersu Uzala
  • Kagemusha
  • Ran
  • Dreams
  • Rhapsody in August
  • Madadayo

Thanks for reading this and I look forward to the features you send me.