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Kurosawa Sensei et al


cujas
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Akira Kurosawa is a great Director from the Japanese Tradition of Kinema. But like all great artists, he learned his metier from many others who were far from Japanese borders.

 

I'd like to open this thread on the great "Sensei" and Japanese filmmakers by discussing the influences--film-wise on Kurosawa. His last favorite director was "Beat"Takeshi Kitano.

 

You may be surprised at what influenced him and what he considered to be the best in Cinema. Of course, he never listed any of his own films. (He went from Silents down to the present. His slant was on the Director)

 

1) His favorite film are: *Broken Blossoms* by American Film Pioneer DW Griffith.

2) The German Classic *Dr. Caligari's Cabinet*--Robert Wiene

3) Fritz Lang's *Dr. Mabuse*

4) Chaplin's *The Gold Rush*

5) *The Fall of the House of Usher*--Jean Epstein (French Director)

 

 

Other American Films listed--

7)Von Sternberg's *Morocco*

11) *The Thin Man*

16) *Stella Dallas*--Stanwyck version

19) *Ninotchka*

21) *My Darling Clementine*

22) *It's A Wonderful Life)

23 *The Big Sleep*

 

One Astaire film listed is *Daddy Longlegs*.

In the 50's listed were *Streetcar Named Desire* and *400 Blows*

 

 

 

Edited by: cujas on Aug 26, 2010 5:37 PM

 

Edited by: cujas on Aug 26, 2010 5:44 PM

 

Edited by: cujas on Aug 26, 2010 5:47 PM

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My favorite classic Japanese directors are definitely Kurosawa & Ozu. Although I didn't list my top foreign directors yet they will most definitely both be included. I am also quite fond of Mizoguchi although not necessarily as much as those other two.

 

As for modern Japanese directors as I said in the other thread I am more familiar with animators such as Miyazaki, Takahata, Kon, & relatively new comers Mamoru Hosoda & Masaaki Yuasa

 

Satoshi Kon has sadly passed away from Cancer on the 24th. His film Paprika actually partially inspired Nolan's Inception. Although my favorite of his is Millennium Actress. Interestingly the main character in Millennium Actress was apparently based on *Setsuko Hara.*

 

I don't think I have seen any films by Kitano so I will have to look into him.

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I have also heard Ford was Kurosawa's favorite filmmaker. I guess Kurosawa had a lot of "Western" influences. I think you can see the influence of the Western in many of his Samurai movies. He adapted Shakespeare & Russian novels. But of course he gives these things a Japanese flair. And he also made some great Noirish films.

 

Now that I have seen Throne of Blood (thanks to TCM's Kurosawa;s marathon) I think it is one of the best if not the best adaption of a Shakespeare play. Of course there is Ran which I still need to see but I want to read King Lear first.

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Too many great Japanese directors to name.

 

Obviously, Kurosawa, Ozu and Mizoguchi get most of the attention, but there are others that are badly underrated.

 

Teshigara and Kobayashi are both masters of cinema that need to get more attention. Same with Naruse, who's sadly been passed over for his contemporaries.

 

Suzuki and Imamura are always fun to watch as well, with their experimental style.

 

I like what I've seen from Oshima and Ichikawa, but I need to watch more to understand them better.

 

As for Kurosawa, he's easily one of the 5 most liked directors if film history, in terms of popularity with fellow directors. Up there with guys like Fellini, Ford and Welles.

 

Edited by: JefCostello on Aug 26, 2010 9:43 PM

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Mikio Naruse really does need some light. Were his films ever distributed in America during the 50s and 60s? I know Ozu didn't really take off here until a large number of his films were finally screened in the early 70s. I can't find any info on whether Naruse ever received similar exposure. I'd guess probably not. A shame.

 

I've been petitioning TCM to show one of several Naruse films.

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I have not seen any of his films but I realize I already have one of them "When a Woman Ascends the Stairs" in my Netflix queue. Unfortunately that seems to be the only one of his films released in the US (and by Criterion of course). At least I don't see any of his other films on Netflix.

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Setsuko Hara is the Movie Star face of Japanese Post-War Feminity--Beauty teamed with Self-Sacrifice.

 

She was Ozu's top Actress--However, the roles she did in Kurosawa movies were uncharacteristic of her general image.

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Setsuko Klossowska de Rola--

 

that's Setsuko's name today because she is the widow of Balthus, who died in 2001. They had one daughter.

 

After the death of Picasso, Balthus, who was Polish-French and lived in Switzerland, was considered to be the world's greatest modern artist.

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Most of my favorite Japanese filmmakers have been mentioned already, in fact I like all that have been mentioned. The first Japanese film I saw was Mizoguchi's *Ugetsu*, when I was a freshman at U. of Michigan. For many years, I considered it the best film of all time. I've seen many films in the years since, and it still holds up as one of the greatest. I'd also point out that Mizoguchi is considered one of the earliest feminist filmmakers, because of his films depicting the plight, and accomplishments, of women.

 

Since I still live near the U. of Mich., I have attended the UM Center for Japanese Studies film program for many years, and had the opportunity to see lots of films projected on a fair sized screen. This fall they will be showing a Kurosawa retrospective, with 8 recently restored 35mm prints. They are familiar films, but it will be nice to see them under such good conditions.

 

http://www.ii.umich.edu/cjs/eventsprograms/film

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Kurosawa film fights tabloid Paparazzi

 

 

Last weekend I saw for the first time Kurosawa's *Scandal* from 1950. It's not a well-known film, but stars Mifune and Shimura. What makes Kurosawa a genius in regards to this film is not that is a great movie--but how universal and ahead of its time the subject matter is.

 

*Scandal* is all about how Paparazzi's in post-war Japan entrap two innocent people--a famous singer and an avant-garde artist. Making an innocent chance meeting into a torrid love affair.

 

But the 2 victims decide to fight back and sue the tabloid in court.

 

It's hard to believe that a film made in 1950 could be so timely today. But art is universal and timeless.

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I don't quite know what you mean that about European. It reminds me a lot of *Nora Inu*. They(Kurosawa and Mifune) made a number of modern topical films at that time. In 1949 they made a film about veneral disease. I believe it was called *The Quiet Duel*. I sure would like to see it.

 

Have you seen many of these films they made in the late '40's and early '50's?

 

What did you think of *Drunken Angel*?

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I felt like I saw elements of Bergman, and Rosselini in *Scandal*, and the sets looked sort of European, too. I could see it all happening in the Alps... The sexual sensiblities seemed more European than Japanese to me as well.

 

I like *Nora Inu* (Stray Dog) quite a bit, it is a classic noir, IMO, but I don't see much similarity with *Scandal*. I have seen *Drunken Angel* a few times. I like it, but not nearly as much as *Stray Dog*. I can see elements of *Ikiru* and *Red Beard* in *Drunken Angel*, but they are later, and much better, films.

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I've only seen Mifune as a samurai twice in Kurosawa films--"Sanjuro" and "Yojimbo".

 

For the most part I've seen him as a modern day character--

 

Corporate exec in "The High & The Low" & "The Dead Sleep Well"

Police Detective in "Nora Inu"

Gangster in "The Drunken Angel"

 

The main ingredient to his character in all these films in modern dress was his integrity and loyalty. Those are characteristics that I see in many of his roles--a lot like Gary Cooper, James Stewart or John Wayne roles.

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He has those characteristics in spades, in *Red Beard*. I've seen his modern roles too, and like them. But, as the star of The Samurai Trilogy, and many other samurai period pieces, with Kurosawa, and other directors, and him being best known for *Seven Samurai* and other such films, I tend to think of him primarily for his samurai parts.

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I think Westerners tend to typecast him like that--for example

 

James Stewart could do everything--But his westerns were stellar examples of Americana. But we don't really just think of him as a western star, do we?

 

Over 10 yrs ago when I contacted my local Borders to buy "Drunken Angel" and *Nora Inu", I had quite an argument with the bookseller. She insisted Mifune, directed by Kurosawa, only had samurai roles and that he never did modern day roles like American actors. I thought that was very funny, indeed.

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