Tuesday, March 23, 2010

Akira Kurosawa Turns 100

Akira Kurosawa

March 23rd, 1910 - September 6th, 1998

"Akira Kurosawa was the youngest of seven children, born in Tokyo on 23 March 1910. He has said that the first important influence in his life was a teacher called Tachikawa, who was progressive in his emphasis on art education for the young. This was how the young Kurosawa was introduced to art and film. A talented painter, he enrolled in an art school that emphasized Western styles. Around this time he also joined an artists' group with a great enthusiasm for nineteenth-century Russian literature, with Dostoevsky a particular favourite. Another influence was Heigo, one of his brothers, who loved film and worked as a benshi, a film narrator/commentator for foreign silent films. His suicide deeply affected the director's sensibilities.

In 1930 he responded to a newspaper advertisement for assistant directors at a film studio and began assisting Kajirō Yamamoto (山本嘉次郎), who liked the fact he knew 'a lot about things other than movies'. Within five years he was writing scripts and directing whole sequences for Yamamoto films. In 1943 he made his debut as a director with Judo Saga (姿三四郎, Sugata Sanshirō), with a magnificent martial-arts sequence in which two masters fight to the death in a wind-swept field, their flying limbs all but obscured by the tall swaying grasses. Consider the acclaim given to the similar fight sequences in Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon and it's obvious why in 1943 people began to talk about a young film-maker with a brilliant future."

Continue reading Akira Kurosawa's biography at the British Film Institute.

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