Feel like a princess: everything you need to know from Akira Kurosawa

It's the feeling of the day: Princess Leonor is a fan of Akira Kurosawa. We are glad that it is so, we thought that everything was lost in that house since its mother declared itself fan of The Planets. It is commendable that at least one member of the family has such good taste: we are of the opinion that if in all the houses of Spain there was at least one completist of Kurosawa, everything would go better.

It may be that in your home, dear reader, Kurosawa has not yet entered. And the good thing that Kurosawa has (we're assuming that what Leonor likes is Akira, not Kiyoshi Kurosawa , that would be the repanocha) is that it does not need to belong to the royalty to enjoy it . Therefore, we offer a few keys to enter Kurosawa's cinema, distant but very close at the same time.
We say this because Kurosawa is the most Western of the Eastern directors: he declared that the filmmaker who had influenced him most was John Ford, and in fact the connections between his samurai cinema and the classic western are more than obvious . But there is more: his obsession with Shakespeare led him to adapt it over and over again, and he also talked about his devotion to Dashiell Hammett.

Between East and West

Rashomon Ediima20160318 0648 18
Kurosawa was educated in the conviction that he descended from a legendary caste of samurai, but also that he should not scorn his education here and now, and his father strove not to grow isolated from the West. That's why, as a child, he had access to countless Hollywood films , with which he forged his peculiar tastes. His first work was as assistant (in 25 films) of a mythical of the Japanese cinema, Kajiro Yamamoto.
After World War II, he read a novel, 'Sashiro Sugata', about the philosophy hidden behind the martial art of judo , which excited him. He bought the rights and adapted it, making it his debut behind the camera in 1943, 'The Legend of Great Judo'.
It would not be until 1950 and after a few films (such interesting titles as 'Silent Duel' or 'The Drunken Angel', which detects his taste for mixing social drama modes with noir influenced by Hollywood ) that would reach its first international success , 'Rashomon, the bloody forest')
From there he would string together a series of films that, in the 1950s, his most fertile and classical era, would make him an essential name for Eastern cinema : absolute classics such as 'The Seven Samurai', dramas such as 'Vivir', smaller films Such as 'The Hidden Fortress' or officially inspired films ('The Idiot' in Dostoevsky) or not ('Throne of Blood', Shakespeare's unconventional adaptation) in Western literature.
After founding its own producer and initiating an absolute classic like 'Yojimbo' in 1961, a dark stage arrives for Kurosawa. The economic crisis in Japan forces him to look for work in Hollywood, but no project fits the bill, and even attempts to commit suicide without success . It is after the Russian production of 'Dersu Uzala' in 1975 that he begins to claim his figure in the West, or definitively.
This revilatization was the result of films like 'Dreams of Akira Kurosawa' or 'Rhapsody of August' in the early nineties, films of definitive maturity but without the epic that had left behind since 'Ran', his last great brutality - also Inspired unabashedly in Shakespeare, in 1985. An accident in a shoot that fell in a wheelchair had just undermined his health until his death in 1998

Humanism and violence

If something Akira Kurosawa has passed through history is because of his prodigious sense of aesthetics, one that catapulted the genre chanbara (the samurai cinema) to the stratosphere: the way he had to shoot and edit the most violent sequences happened to the History . He used very close planes to plunge the spectator into the very heart of the fighting and he cared for the aesthetics to give them an unreal and dantesque atmosphere.
And at the same time, he used subtle but bold set-up techniques to break the classical notions of space and rhythm . Cortes that bring the characters closer and farther, experimentation with the relationship between montage and movement and very long planes (the silence and the eyes were, according to Kurosawa, essential for the spectator to reflect on what he was seeing) that are crushed mercilessly in the cutting room.
There are analyzes of Kurosawa's work that focus on a single plane or a single maneuver mounting an apparently smaller film. The complexity of his cinema is not only in the justly famous sequences of dynastic massacre of 'The Seven Samurai': in one of those melodramas prior to Rashomon, Kurosawa could subvert a dialogue based on manipulating the plane-counter-plane.
Kurosawa said that " all human beings share the same problems. A film can only be understood if it reflects them properly ", and this is something that can be applied to understand their cinema: all human passions are present in their films , the Lowest to highest. And that's what they all talk about, the epics and the everyday.
Akira Kurosawa's film (as did his admired Shakespeare) speaks of absolutely everything that competes with humans , but has certain recognizable and habitual thematic tics. Perhaps the most recognizable with the epic that we associate with part of the Kurosawa cinema is the obsession with the cycles of violence: how it is repeated historically, over and over, and is inevitable to escape.
In fact, the circular processes are pure Kurosawa, both in the thematic (for example, it also impinges heavily on the stories of teachers and disciples , which is a form of circularity) and narrative (in 'Rashomon' tells a crime from several points of view). One more detail of genius of an inexhaustible filmmaker.
Although we have only scratched the surface of the best Kurosawa, the best thing to understand and appreciate is to attack his films. Here are some of the most notable (yes: take advantage of the fact that almost all of his films are edited in our country : the same can not be said of all Oriental filmmakers).

Rashomon, the Bloody Forest (1950)

The film not only introduced Kurosawa to the West, but also served to bring Japanese cinema out of its borders . Debunked and even hypnotic today, she tells of a crime from the perspective of four contradictory witnesses.

Living (1952)

One of Kurosawa's most humanistic and touching films, which tells how a clerk finds out he has cancer and his death is close: he decides to make up for lost time in a vital, inspirational, and humorous film.

The Seven Samurai (1954)

For many followers of the director, the film Kurosawa summit, and certainly is an incredible mix of issues that worried him with a vibrant and overwhelming staging. Here we explain the reason for your legend.

Throne of Blood (1957)

'Macbeth' with samurai, accentuating the macabre tone of Shakespeare's original and with a style between phantasmagoric and fatalistic that not only fits with the literary original but shows to what extent the connections between English and Kurosawa are remarkable.

The Hidden Fortress (1958)

A movie that we talked about at the time by its notorious resemblances to 'Star Wars'. One of Kurosawa's lighter films and a hilarious adventure.

Yojimbo (1961)

Western cinema recovered what was his when Sergio Leone based 'For a handful of dollars' in 'Yojimbo' and his story of a samurai without a lord who faces two rival gangs to save a town . Total Classic.

Sanjuro (1962)

Sanjuro Main Review
Sequel to 'Yojimbo' - although that was not the original intention - in which there is room for comedy , when Toshiro Mifune's masterless samurai must train some lamentable warriors to defend their village.

The Hell of Hate (1963)

Hell Hate 590x407
One of Kurosawa's most popular black cinema films, in which an entrepreneur must face the kidnapping of his chauffeur's son. A superb interpretation of Toshiro Mifune, although not of the most known.

Dersu Uzala - The Hunter (1975)

Dersu Uzala
This story of the friendship of two very different men in the Siberian steppe was the recovery of Kurasawwa in the last stage of life and a realization of their ecological concerns .

Kagemusha The Shadow of the Warrior (1980)

An excessive and vibrant film in which a thief is forced to take the place of a warlord. Winner of a Palm of Gold and with some dreamlike and ghostly sequences that immerse the film in the fantastic genre.

Ran (1985)

More epic samurai inspired by Shakespeare, this time in 'King Lear', and with ultraviolent and sumptuous action sequences . Amazing colorful and unique atmosphere.

No comments