This week at Monday Movie Nights we celebrate one of the titans of film history: Akira Kurosawa. Directing his debut feature during WWII, Kurosawa would become one of the most influential filmmakers of all time and arguably Japan’s most celebrated filmmaker. He rose to international prominence after Rashômon was the surprise winner of the Golden Lion at the Venice Film Festival in 1951. The film’s success would throw open the doors of American cinemas to Japanese film and many Japanese filmmakers broke through to international recognition in the ensuing years.
Kurosawa was a passionate filmmaker and oversaw every aspect of his films production, from initial script through final editing. Remembered as a bold, dynamic director he was a true auteur and an inspiration for generations of directors both in Japan and worldwide.
“His influence on filmmakers throughout the entire world is so profound as to be almost incomparable.” Martin Scorcese
Along with his multitude of masterpieces, Kurosawa also aided in the revitalization of the dying Western genre in America. His films Yôjinbô and Seven Samurai were re-imagined as A Fistful of Dollars and The Magnificent Seven respectively.
For such a heavyweight of film history, a single night of appreciation may not be enough but here at Monday Movie Nights we’ll try.
Rashômon (1950) – 88min
A heinous crime and its aftermath are recalled from differing points of view.
Ikuru (1952) – 143min
A bureaucrat tries to find a meaning in his life after he discovers he has terminal cancer.
Kumonosu-jô or Throne of Blood (1957) – 110min
A war-hardened general, egged on by his ambitious wife, works to fulfill a prophecy that he would become lord of Spider’s Web Castle.
Kakushi-toride no san-akunin or The Hidden Fortress (1958) – 126min
Lured by gold, two greedy peasants escort a man and woman across enemy lines. However, they do not realize that their companions are actually a princess and her general.
Yôjinbô (1961) – 110min
A crafty ronin comes to a town divided by two criminal gangs and decides to play them against each other to free the town.
Sanjuro (1962) – 92min
A crafty samurai helps a young man and his fellow clansmen save his uncle, who has been framed and imprisoned by a corrupt superintendent.