Akira Kurosawa: Acclaim, Criticism, & Depictions
ARTH 334: Understanding Movies
Instructor Robert Lewis
September 22, 2013
Akira Kurosawa: Acclaim, Collaborations, & Criticisms
Director Akira Kurosawa is arguably one of the most creative, influential, and innovative filmmakers in the history of cinema. Kurosawa’s career spanned nearly sixty years and has received much critical acclaim by many of his peers, filmmakers, and generations of film students. Additionally, he has received an array of international recognition for his successes in and contributions to film. Kurosawa’s career started in the mid-1930s. However, his initial success started ...view middle of the document...
This success came in the film “Drunken Angel”. “Drunken Angel”, a film about a sleazy drunken doctor trying to cure a gangster and a Japanese mafia member known as a Yakuza stars Takashi Shimura. The film also starred a then unknown actor by the name of Toshiro Mifune. This film was a critical success and Mifune was lauded for his performance in the film. However, it was a 1950 film directed by Kurosawa that brought his initial critical acclaim and international fame. The 1950 film “Rashomon” starring Toshiro Mifune used a non-linear story line with an engaging plot. It told a story from many different perspectives regarding the alleged rape of a woman and murder of her samurai husband. This film did not only receive high praise but it introduced western audiences to Kurosawa’s unique style of storytelling and camera work. The film won numerous awards throughout Japan, Europe, and the United States. Kurosawa won the Golden Lion Award at the 1951 Venice Film Festival and “Rashomon” won an Academy Award for Best Foreign Language Film at the 24th Academy Awards in March of 1952.
With the success of “Rashomon”, Kurosawa moved on to a drama which is co-wrote and directed name Ikiru and like “Rashomon” the film received outstanding reviews. In late 1952 he started work on a period samurai film called “Seven Samurai”. “Seven Samurai” has often been coined as Kurosawa’s greatest work and the greatest samurai film of all time. Released in Japan in 1954, and in the U.S. (in a cut version) in 1956, "Seven Samurai," a near universal favorite among critics and filmmakers, is a film of stunning technique and astonishing impact. Its battle scenes have been compared to Goya's paintings and the Russian film classics of Eisenstein and Dovzhenko (Michael Wilminton, 2002). The film consisted of a veteran cast many of whom Kurosawa collaborated with before in previous films to include Takashi Shimura and Toshiro Mifune whom he collaborated with in ‘Drunken Angel” and “Rashomon”. For his efforts Kurosawa was nominated for the Golden Lion Award at the 1954 Venice Film Festival and Toshiro Mifune won the Silver Lion Award. The film was also nominated for numerous Awards at the 1956 British Academy Film Awards (BAFTA) and the 1957 Academy Awards. This was also Kurosawa’s third collaboration with Toshiro Mifune whom was lauded for his performance as a Yakuza with tuberculosis in the film “Drunken Angel” and as the bandit on trial for rape and murder in the film “Rashomon’. The two would go on to collaborate with each other for thirteen other films after the “Seven Samurai” film.
With the exception of Takashi Shimura, Toshiro Mifune is one of the most frequent and most prolific actors whom Kurosawa collaborated with for eighteen years of his fifty-seven year career. Kurosawa and Mifune would collaborate with one another in sixteen films, the first being Drunken Angel. Many of the films that two collaborated together on are highly regarded and are considered classics....