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Iconic Acting and Innovative Filmmaking in Akira Kurosawa’s Yojimbo

To Mifune Rikiya 11 June 2021, 6.30 p.m. – the opening of a small retrospective of ten films dedicated to the great Japanese actor Toshiro Mifune at the Japanese Cultural Institute in Cologne, Germany. It may not look like a big event, but for me it is the culmination of a long and highly emotional […]

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Features Four Frames

A family in crisis: Masahiro Kobayashi’s Lear on the Shore

A beach at the seaside is the main location in Masahiro Kobayashi’s Lear on the Shore (Umibe no Ria, 2017) and the key setting for a number of dramatic encounters. The former actor Chokitsu Kuwabatake (Tatsuya Nakadai), dressed in pyjamas and a long woollen coat and pulling a suitcase behind him, walks along the beach […]

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Features Thousand Words

How The Human Condition ignited my passion for Japanese cinema

I began 2016 by watching a lot of Masaki Kobayashi. It was a year that year marked both the centenary of his birth, and the 20th anniversary of his death. My aim was to deepen my knowledge of his work, and to pay homage to a filmmaker I greatly admire by writing articles in which […]

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Lost Classics Reviews

Discover this generation-spanning drama about cultural change in post-war Japan

In Mikio Naruse’s 1956 film A Wife’s Heart, the family serves as a microcosm for tradition and changes in post-war Japanese society. It’s set in a provincial Japanese town in which cultural changes have been less extreme than in the capital: there are no modern office block towers, and both buildings and interiors are a mixture of Japanese […]

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Features Thousand Words

Thousand Words: An Inner Journey in a Wintry Landscape (Snow Trail, 1947)

In terms of film history, Snow Trail (Ginrei no hate) is worth looking at simply because it marks the screen debut of Toshirō Mifune. The unusual setting of this gangster film, directed by Senkichi Taniguchi and co-written by Akira Kurosawa, is another significant aspect. The hunt for the criminals takes place not in an urban […]

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Features Thousand Words

Thousand Words: From Shakespeare to Kurosawa (Ran, 1985)

William Shakespeare’s The Tragedy of King Lear was the main inspiration for Akira Kurosawa’s Ran, and this French-Japanese production shows many thematic and narrative similarities with Shakespeare’s play. Both works depict the fate of a man who has fallen from grace: Lear in the English play, Hidetora in the Japanese film. Both protagonists are old […]