Akira Kurosawa (1910-1998) now exists only in pictures. Not just the still kind, but the moving kind as well. Kurosawa grew up in the volatile pre-war Japan, and despite all the conflict within his country and without, managed to direct some of the best films from that era or any other. His most famous films, and most widely recognized are The Seven Samurai, which was remade in America into The Magnificent Seven, Rashomon, Kurosawa's breakthrough film, Yojimbo, which was remade into Fistful of Dollars, again in America, and The Hidden Fortress, which was the inspiration for George Lucas' incredibly successful Star Wars. Just from this small list, one can imagine Kurosawa's profound impact on the western cinema. His death is certainly a great loss to all of us. Up until his last breath, he made films that inspired and amazed and continue to do so. Some of his latest films include Ran, which is based on the King Lear story except that the king's offspring are sons, Dreams, and Kagemusha. This page contains a wealth of information about Akira, his films, information about books written by him and about him, pictures of him and his films, clips from some of his films, a shortened version of his life story, articles about his films and his recent death, and links to all other web pages that concern Akira or his associates.

If you still haven't seen any of Kurosawa's movies, I highly reccomend almost all of them. Virtually every video store at least has a copy of The Seven Samurai. Many have more of his films just because they inspired other films and people want to see the originals. Kurosawa has actually done a couple of films based on Shakespeare plays, so if you are a Shakespeare fanatic, you should check them out too. The first Shakespeare-inspired movie he made, Throne of Blood (Kumonosu jo, 1957) is based on Shakespeare's Macbeth. The second, and most recent and successful (and pretty long) adaptation is called Ran (1985), and it is based on the King Lear story. Instead of daughters, however, the Lear figure has three sons (it would be impossible in feudal Japan for women to inherit any kind of power). The pictures themselves make the film worth seeing. It really shows Kurosawa's dedication to the beauty of the images, and not just the plot and dialogue (this is a trait that probably comes from silent films, when there was no dialogue, so the beauty of the image was relied upon for viewer interest and entertainment). Both of these Shakespear adaptations are excellent; everyone should see them if they have a chance. On the other hand, if you're more of a fan of Dostoyevsky, Kurosawa has made a film based on his book called The Idiot (Hakuchi, 1951). If you can see any of Kurosawa's movies, you're probably in for a treat. Kurosawa is a great writer and director, and his stamp on a film really means something.

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Page last modified 14:05:09 on 11/17/98 by Asa Fitch