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Kurosawa and His Impact on Film

Akira Kurosawa was a was a Japanese film director and screenwriter, who directed 30 films in a
career spanning 57 years. He is regarded as one of the most important and influential filmmakers in
the history of cinema. I’m going to be talk about what made his so unique/influential as a director,
the moments that defined his career and how he managed to have a style that can be recognised
anywhere in the film world. So, with any further ado, this is my take on Akira Kurosawa, enjoy.

More than any other filmmaker, Akira Kurosawa had an innate understanding of movement and how
to capture it onscreen, One of Kurosawa’s many gifts was staging scenes in ways that were bold,
simple and visual. In almost all his films he uses staging as a specific way to communicate with the
audience, which has defined his style ever since. “The Bad Sleep Well” (1960) is a good example of
this, using staging to put characters in the shape of triangles and squares to display the power shift
between characters.

Kurosawa secured his position as a representative Japanese film director in Japan and abroad when
his “Rashomon” (1950) won grand prix at the Venice in 1951. Kurosawa is undoubtedly the most
well-known and popular Japanese director; it wouldn’t be an exaggeration to say that Kurosawa was
almost singularly responsible for the global recognition for the Japanese cinema to achieve the
status of a recognisable national for foreign audiences. Because of the success of “Rashomon”
(1950) abroad, the Japanese themselves realised the significance of the international film market.
The worldwide acceptance of Kurosawa gave them the opportunity to redefine what constituted as
Japanese cinema, Both in and outside of Japan, the imagining of Japanese cinema as a national
cinema had a lot to do with the reception and consumption of Kurosawa’s films.

George Lucas has even acknowledged that when Kurosawa made ''The Hidden Fortress'' (1958) in
which a princess is escorted to freedom with the help of two bickering peasants, as one of the
inspirations for his ''Star Wars'' series, in which he replaced the peasants with two bickering robots.

Kurosawa however raised a tension between Japanese and Western critics because of his films went
against Japans self-image and the West’s image of Japan alike. This is mentioned in Mitsuhiro
Yoshimoto’s “Kurosawa, Film Studies and Japanese Cinema” (2000) when he says:

“His films problematize Japan’s self-image and the West’s image of Japan, To the extent that
his films reveal the existence of a geoculteral fantasy in a seemingly neutral critical language
of film criticism, “Kurosawa” can be understood as a symptom of Japanese cinema as it is
perceived as a national cinema.”

This book tries to re-examine widely circulating clichés about Korusawa and his films. Anyways
Kurosawa blend of cultures resulted in the mutual agreement that he didn’t belong to a strictly
western or Japanese style of film. Probably the best example of this would be “7 Samurai” (1954)
which had a lot of (cowboy) western themes. It as a result inspired “The Magnificent seven” (1960)
which took the westernisation to the extreme by literally turning it into a cowboy western. The
purpose was to make a samurai movie that was anchored in ancient Japanese culture and yet argued
for a flexible humanism in place of rigid traditions.

Recognized as an important voice in cinema, over the course of the next decade, Kurosawa made
some of his most influential films. demonstrating his range and flair for adaptation, in 1957,
Kurosawa released Throne of Blood. A reimagining of Macbeth, it is widely considered to be one of
the finest interpretations of Shakespeare’s works.
However, despite Kurosawa’s continued successes, television’s negative impact on filmmaking and
an economic depression in Japan led him to seek work in Hollywood. Unfortunately, none of his
projects there came to fruition. exhausted and suffering financially, Kurosawa attempted suicide in
1971. Although he eventually recovered, he resigned himself to the fact that he would never direct
again. However, in 1974 Kurosawa came out of his slum and began work with a Russian company on
his next film “Dersu Uzala” (1975) which won the foreign film Oscar 1975 and then “Kagemusha”
(1980) with the same company.

For all that Kurosawa had contributed to the world of cinema, it is fitting that his profound influence
would someday repaid. In the late 1970s, Kurosawa admirer George Lucas leveraged his massive
success with Star Wars to bring Francis Ford Coppola and Twentieth Century Fox on board to
produce “Kagemusha” (1980), a medieval samurai story. His film is basically the story of one such
man, a common thief who, because of his astonishing resemblance to the warlord Shingen, is chosen
as Shingen's double.

In conclusion, although other Japanese filmmakers acquired substantial international followings

after the pioneering success of Rashomon, Kurosawa’s films continue to command great interest in
the West. They represent a unique combination of elements of Japanese art in the subtlety of their
feeling and philosophy, the brilliance of their visual composition, and their treatment of samurai and
other historic Japanese themes—with a distinctly Western feeling for action and drama and a
frequent use of stories from Western sources, both literary classics and popular thrillers. Kurosawa
was a recipient of numerous film and career honours, including a Golden Lion for Career
Achievement at the 1982 Venice Film Festival, an Academy Award for lifetime achievement (1989),
the Directors Guild of America’s lifetime achievement award (1992), and the Japan Art Association’s
Premium Imperial prize for theatre/film (1992). In 1995, he was working on his next project when he
fell and broke his back. The injuries he sustained confined him to a wheelchair for the remainder of
life and led to a rapid deterioration of his health. He died from a stroke on September 6, 1998, in
Tokyo. He was 88. Since his passing, his impact on film continues to be felt through new
interpretations of his work and the lasting influence.