65 Facts About Akira Kurosawa


Akira Kurosawa is regarded as one of the most important and influential filmmakers in film history.

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Akira Kurosawa entered the Japanese film industry in 1936, following a brief stint as a painter.

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Akira Kurosawa directed approximately one film per year throughout the 1950s and early 1960s, including a number of highly regarded films, such as Ikiru (1952), Seven Samurai (1954), Throne of Blood (1957) and Yojimbo (1961).

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Akira Kurosawa's career has been honored by many retrospectives, critical studies and biographies in both print and video, and by releases in many consumer media.

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Akira Kurosawa was born on March 23, 1910, in Oimachi in the Omori district of Tokyo.

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Akira Kurosawa encouraged his children to watch films; young Akira viewed his first movies at the age of six.

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Akira Kurosawa has commented on the lasting sense of loss he felt at his brother's death and the chapter of his autobiography that describes it—written nearly half a century after the event—is titled, "A Story I Don't Want to Tell".

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Akira Kurosawa's essay earned him a call to take the follow-up exams, and director Kajiro Yamamoto, who was among the examiners, took a liking to Akira Kurosawa and insisted that the studio hire him.

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Yamamoto nurtured Akira Kurosawa's talent, promoting him directly from third assistant director to chief assistant director after a year.

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Akira Kurosawa's responsibilities increased, and he worked at tasks ranging from stage construction and film development to location scouting, script polishing, rehearsals, lighting, dubbing, editing, and second-unit directing.

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Akira Kurosawa soon realized that the potential earnings from his scripts were much higher than what he was paid as an assistant director.

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Akira Kurosawa later wrote or co-wrote all his films, and frequently penned screenplays for other directors such as Satsuo Yamamoto's film, A Triumph of Wings.

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Akira Kurosawa bought the book on its publication day, devoured it in one sitting, and immediately asked Toho to secure the film rights.

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Akira Kurosawa next turned to the subject of wartime female factory workers in The Most Beautiful, a propaganda film which he shot in a semi-documentary style in early 1944.

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Shortly before his marriage, Akira Kurosawa was pressured by the studio against his will to direct a sequel to his debut film.

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Akira Kurosawa decided to write the script for a film that would be both censor-friendly and less expensive to produce.

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The Men Who Tread on the Tiger's Tail, based on the Kabuki play Kanjincho and starring the comedian Enoken, with whom Akira Kurosawa had often worked during his assistant director days, was completed in September 1945.

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However, Akira Kurosawa did not want to smother the young actor's immense vitality, and Mifune's rebellious character electrified audiences in much the way that Marlon Brando's defiant stance would startle American film audiences a few years later.

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The work is an ambitious mixture of courtroom drama and social problem film about free speech and personal responsibility, but even Akira Kurosawa regarded the finished product as dramatically unfocused and unsatisfactory, and almost all critics agree.

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Akira Kurosawa picked a script by an aspiring young screenwriter, Shinobu Hashimoto, who would eventually work on nine of his films.

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Akira Kurosawa saw potential in the script, and with Hashimoto's help, polished and expanded it and then pitched it to Daiei, who were happy to accept the project due to its low budget.

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Meanwhile, unbeknownst to Akira Kurosawa, Rashomon had been entered in the Venice Film Festival, due to the efforts of Giuliana Stramigioli, a Japan-based representative of an Italian film company, who had seen and admired the movie and convinced Daiei to submit it.

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Akira Kurosawa's growing reputation among Western audiences in the 1950s would make Western audiences more sympathetic to the reception of later generations of Japanese film-makers ranging from Kon Ichikawa, Masaki Kobayashi, Nagisa Oshima and Shohei Imamura to Juzo Itami, Takeshi Kitano and Takashi Miike.

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Akira Kurosawa's career boosted by his sudden international fame, Kurosawa, now reunited with his original film studio, Toho, set to work on his next project, Ikiru.

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In December 1952, Akira Kurosawa took his Ikiru screenwriters, Shinobu Hashimoto and Hideo Oguni, for a forty-five-day secluded residence at an inn to create the screenplay for his next movie, Seven Samurai.

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Akira Kurosawa instructed his leading actress, Isuzu Yamada, to regard the work as if it were a cinematic version of a Japanese rather than a European literary classic.

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Out of step with the prevailing mood of the era, Akira Kurosawa's films questioned the possibility of redemption through personal responsibility, particularly in Throne of Blood and The Lower Depths.

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Akira Kurosawa recognized this, and deliberately aimed for a more light-hearted and entertaining film for his next production, while switching to the new widescreen format that had been gaining popularity in Japan.

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Akira Kurosawa agreed, and the Akira Kurosawa Production Company was established in April 1959, with Toho as the majority shareholder.

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The Bad Sleep Well, based on a script by Akira Kurosawa's nephew Mike Inoue, is a revenge drama about a young man who is able to infiltrate the hierarchy of a corrupt Japanese company with the intention of exposing the men responsible for his father's death.

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Akira Kurosawa turned to a script he had written before Yojimbo, reworking it to include the hero of his previous film.

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Akira Kurosawa had meanwhile instructed Toho to purchase the film rights to King's Ransom, a novel about a kidnapping written by American author and screenwriter Evan Hunter, under his pseudonym of Ed McBain, as one of his 87th Precinct series of crime books.

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Akira Kurosawa spent several months working on the script with Ryuzo Kikushima and Hideo Oguni, but very soon the project began to unravel.

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Akira Kurosawa struggled to work with an unfamiliar crew and the requirements of a Hollywood production, while his working methods puzzled his American producers, who ultimately concluded that the director must be mentally ill.

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Akira Kurosawa was examined at Kyoto University Hospital by a neuropsychologist, Dr Murakami, whose diagnosis was forwarded to Darryl Zanuck and Richard Zanuck at Fox studios indicating a diagnosis of neurasthenia stating that, "He is suffering from disturbance of sleep, agitated with feelings of anxiety and in manic excitement caused by the above mentioned illness.

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Akira Kurosawa was ultimately replaced, for the film's Japanese sequences, with two directors, Kinji Fukasaku and Toshio Masuda.

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Akira Kurosawa had spent years of his life on a logistically nightmarish project to which he ultimately did not contribute a foot of film shot by himself.

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The film was shot quickly in about nine weeks, with Akira Kurosawa determined to show he was still capable of working quickly and efficiently within a limited budget.

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Unable to secure funding for further work and allegedly having health problems, Akira Kurosawa apparently reached the breaking point: on December 22, 1971, he slit his wrists and throat multiple times.

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The suicide attempt proved unsuccessful and the director's health recovered fairly quickly, with Akira Kurosawa now taking refuge in domestic life, uncertain if he would ever direct another film.

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Akira Kurosawa proposed an adaptation of Russian explorer Vladimir Arsenyev's autobiographical work Dersu Uzala.

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In December 1973, the 63-year-old Akira Kurosawa set off for the Soviet Union with four of his closest aides, beginning a year-and-a-half stay in the country.

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Today, critics remain divided over the film: some see it as an example of Akira Kurosawa's alleged artistic decline, while others count it among his finest works.

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Lucas, like many other New Hollywood directors, revered Akira Kurosawa and considered him a role model, and was shocked to discover that the Japanese film-maker was unable to secure financing for any new work.

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Akira Kurosawa spent much of the rest of the year in Europe and America promoting Kagemusha, collecting awards and accolades, and exhibiting as art the drawings he had made to serve as storyboards for the film.

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International success of Kagemusha allowed Akira Kurosawa to proceed with his next project, Ran, another epic in a similar vein.

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Akira Kurosawa wasted no time moving onto his next project: Madadayo, or Not Yet.

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Akira Kurosawa wrote the original screenplays The Sea is Watching in 1993 and After the Rain in 1995.

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On September 6, 1998, Akira Kurosawa died of a stroke in Setagaya, Tokyo, at the age of 88.

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One of his grandchildren, the actor Takayuki Kato and grandson by Kazuko, became a supporting actor in two films posthumously developed from screenplays written by Akira Kurosawa which remained unproduced during his own lifetime, Takashi Koizumi's After the Rain and Kei Kumai's The Sea is Watching (2002).

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Akira Kurosawa displayed a bold, dynamic style, strongly influenced by Western cinema yet distinct from it; he was involved with all aspects of film production.

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Akira Kurosawa was a gifted screenwriter and worked closely with his co-writers from the film's development onward to ensure a high-quality script, which he considered the firm foundation of a good film.

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Akira Kurosawa's style is marked by a number of devices and techniques.

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Akira Kurosawa was involved with several of Japan's outstanding contemporary composers, including Fumio Hayasaka and Toru Takemitsu.

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Roman Polanski considered Akira Kurosawa to be among the three film-makers he favored most, along with Fellini and Orson Welles, and picked Seven Samurai, Throne of Blood and The Hidden Fortress for praise.

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Akira Kurosawa cited other films of Kurosawa as his favorites including Seven Samurai, Yojimbo, and Ikiru.

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These Japanese critics argued that Akira Kurosawa was not sufficiently progressive because the peasants were unable to find leaders from within their ranks.

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Author Audie Block, however, assessed Akira Kurosawa to have never played up to a non-Japanese viewing public and to have denounced those directors who did.

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Patrick Frater writing for Variety magazine in May 2017 stated that another two unfinished films by Akira Kurosawa were planned, with Silvering Spear to start filming in 2018.

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Rights to Akira Kurosawa's works were then held by Akira Kurosawa Production and the film studios under which he worked, most notably Toho.

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Kurosawa Production works closely with the Akira Kurosawa Foundation, established in December 2003 and run by Hisao Kurosawa.

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The foundation organizes an annual short film competition and spearheads Akira Kurosawa-related projects, including a recently shelved one to build a memorial museum for the director.

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Akira Kurosawa is often cited as one of the greatest film-makers of all time.

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Significant number of short and full-length documentaries concerning the life and work of Akira Kurosawa were made both during his artistic heyday and after his death.

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AK, by French video essay director Chris Marker, was filmed while Akira Kurosawa was working on Ran; however, the documentary is more concerned about Akira Kurosawa's distant yet polite personality than on the making of the film.

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