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Feature Four Frames

Heat as a psychological and aesthetic motif: Akira Kurosawa’s Stray Dog

Right from his directorial debut Sanshiro Sugata (Sugata Sanshiro, 1943), climate phenomena played an essential role in the films of Akira Kurosawa. In Sanshiro Sugata, for example, it is the wind blowing through the pampas grass, reinforcing the tension in the climactic fight scene between Sanshiro and his rival Higaki. In Kurosawa’s films, human drama […]

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Feature

Playing with Genre Devices: Hideo Gosha’s Three Outlaw Samurai

Continuing In our new article series, in which writers select and discuss great director debuts to explore the possible origins of recurring themes or stylistic approaches, that often help to define the uniqueness of these one-of-a-kind filmmakers.

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Director Debut Feature

Becoming Akira Kurosawa: Sanshiro Sugata

In a new article series, writers select and discuss great director debuts to explore the possible origins of recurring themes or stylistic approaches that often help to define the uniqueness of these one-of-a-kind filmmakers.

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Double Bill Feature

Double Bill: Rashomon & After Life

It is perhaps unusual to deal with Akira Kurosawa’s masterpiece Rashomon (Japan, 1950) and another film in such a short article. However, when I watched Hirokazu Kore-Eda’s After Life (Wandafaru raifu, Japan, 1998), I was immediately struck by the parallels between this film and Rashomon. Both deal with memory, the relativity of all things, and […]

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Feature

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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Feature

Sacrifice and Responsibility in Akira Kurosawa’s High and Low

In Akira Kurosawa’s High and Low (Tengoku to jigoku, Japan, 1963), a bungled kidnapping leads to the protagonist’s deep crisis of conscience. Wealthy Kingo Gondo (Toshiro Mifune) has to decide whether or not to pay the ransom demanded by a kidnapper who intended to abduct Gondo’s son but has taken his chauffeur’s son by mistake. […]

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Feature

A manhunt in a period film: Hideo Gosha’s Bandits vs. Samurai Squadron

The recent discovery of Bandits vs. Samurai Squadron (Kumokiri Nizaemon, 1978), a film that I had never seen before, has added a new work to my stock of movies for my research on Japanese film in general and on Gosha’s oeuvre in particular. Not as well known as Goyokin (1969) or Hitokiri (1969), Bandits vs. […]

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Feature

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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Feature Music & Film

Self-Isolation Soundtrack: The Music of Seven Samurai

Seven Samurai (Shichinin no samurai, 1954) is one of those rich and complex films that one never tires of watching over and over again. Much has been written about Akira Kurosawa’s masterpiece, but the emphasis has rarely been on music. This article is my very humble attempt to have a closer look at Fumio Hayasaka’s […]