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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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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

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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Double Bill Feature

Double Bill: Seven Samurai & 13 Assassins

When I was informed about this month’s “double feature” topic, I spontaneously decided to write about Akira Kurosawa’s Seven Samurai (Shichinin no samurai, 1954) and Takashi Miike’s 13 Assassins (Jusan-nin no shikaku, 2010). On rethinking the matter, I quickly became discouraged. Is it possible to deal in one short article with a masterpiece such as […]

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Feature Thousand Words

Visual Poetry: Akira Kurosawa’s Throne of Blood

Inspired by William Shakespeare’s Macbeth, Akira Kurosawa created, with Throne of Blood (Kumonosu-jo, Japan, 1957), visual poetry: in black and white, light and shade, movement and immobility. Kurosawa does not try to put Shakespearean English into Japanese. Instead, image and rhythm replace words, pointing to the visual nature of Shakespeare’s language. In this way, Kurosawa, […]

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Feature Thousand Words

Toshiro Mifune – Intense acting and inventive spirit

When I began working on Akira Kurosawa, the pivotal role for his cinema of Toshiro Mifune (b. 1 April 1920 d. 24 December 1997) sprang immediately to mind. I could not help thinking how much Mifune’s presence and vitality contributed to the strong sense of movement in Kurosawa’s films. Mifune’s intense acting already fascinated the […]

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Feature Thousand Words

The she-panther and the yakuza in Drunken Angel

Drunken Angel (Yoidore tenshi, 1948) is Akira Kurosawa’s first film in which music, used at both a diegetic and non-diegetic level, plays an eminent structural role. One key scene is set in “Club Number 1,” a dance hall in the slum in which the action takes place. In this scene, the jazz song “Jungle Boogie” […]

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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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Lost Classic Reviews

Lost Classic: 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 […]