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Lost Classic Reviews

Lost Classic: Discover Kurosawa’s forgotten film about nuclear terror during the Cold War

Since the success of Akira Kurosawa’s Rashomon at the International Film Festival in Venice in 1951 – which opened the door for western critics and audiences to the rich but previously unknown Japanese film culture – the Venice-Berlin-Cannes festival circuit has been an important way of promoting Japanese films. In the 1956 Cannes Film Festival, […]

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Feature

How Black River perfectly captures the cultural corruption of post-war Japan

Kobayashi’s vitriolic portrayal of a society dominated by crime and corruption.

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Feature Thousand Words

Thousand Words: Kikuchiyo, The Seventh Samurai (Seven Samurai, 1954)

A man scowling while other onlookers appear behind him then pushing his way through the crowd in order to have a better view of a samurai trying to rescue a child held hostage by a thief: this is how Kikuchiyo, the would-be samurai of peasant stock and the figure at the emotional centre of Seven […]

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Feature Thousand Words

Thousand Words: Evil Behind the Mask of Respectability (The Bad Sleep Well, 1960)

The Bad Sleep Well (Warui yatsu hodo yoku nemuru), a critical portrayal of postwar corporate Japan as a breeding ground for corruption, targets the strong connections between the economy, politics and crime. As a tale of revenge, it recalls Hamlet, but it also echoes the Japanese penchant for vengeance as a dramatic motif. The famous […]

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Feature Thousand Words

Thousand Words: How to be a Human Being (Ikiru, 1952)

The first shot in Akira Kurosawa’s Ikiru shows an X-ray. A voiceover reveals that this is the stomach of Watanabe, the film’s central figure, who is terminally ill with stomach cancer. An ordinary man suddenly confronted with death and the futility of his existence, he is desperately trying to find a meaning in life. Kurosawa […]

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Feature Four Frames

Four Frames: Drunken Angel (Akira Kurosawa, 1948)

Drunken Angel (Yoidore tenshi, 1948) paints a gloomy portrait of post-war Tokyo, a city in ruins where crime, corruption and barbaric behaviour abound and where people struggle against poverty, violence and tuberculosis, which was a death sentence at the time. The protagonists try to survive in a chaotic society marked by confusion and emptiness, but […]

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Feature 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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Feature Thousand Words

Thousand Words: Inner Torments and Social Disease (The Quiet Duel, 1949)

In the long opening sequence of Akira Kurosawa’s The Quiet Duel (Shizukanaru kettō), which takes place in 1944 in one of the Southeast Asian countries occupied by the Japanese, a man in a white coat is talking to another man who, dozing, leans against the wall behind them. The second man, his face hidden behind […]

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Feature 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 […]

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