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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 Widescreen

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 […]

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Features Four Frames Lost Classics

Toshiro Mifune in Mexico: Ismael Rodriguez’s Ánimas Trujano

Ánimas Trujano (Mexico, 1962) starts as a documentary film with images of a festival which the villagers in the Mexican State of Oaxaca are celebrating in honour of their patron saint. A voice-over narrator explains the role of the mayordomo, a respected member of the community who is elected to organize the various religious and […]

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Features Four Frames

Fighting Social Ills: Akira Kurosawa’s Red Beard

In Akira Kurosawa’s Red Beard (Akahige, 1965), Dr. Niide (Toshiro Mifune), called “Red Beard”, offers medical treatment cheaply or for free in Edo (as Tokyo was formerly called) in the first half of the 19th century. The nickname Red Beard hints at “red medicine” (komo i gaku), designating the treatment practised by the Dutch (the […]

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Features Four Frames Lost Classics

War as absurdity: Kihachi Okamoto’s Desperado Outpost

Desperado Outpost (Dokuritsu gurentai, Japan, 1959) starts with shots of a man on horseback in a landscape reminiscent of a Western. This hero is Japanese, and the action is set in the wide-open spaces of the Manchurian steppe in the summer of 1945 near the end of the Sino-Japanese War. Okamoto’s approach to the war […]

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Features Four Frames Lost Classics Uncategorized

Searching for salvation: Kei Kumai’s Deep River

Kei Kumai’s Deep River (Fukai Kawa, Japan, 1995) starts with images of a Hindu temple in ruins and shots of the countryside in India through which a bus is passing. The camera eventually hones in on the group of Japanese tourists inside the vehicle, picking out in a succession of close-ups the film’s three main […]