JAPAN: AKIRA KUROSAWA
John Gehl sends this bio of the Japanese film director Akira Kurosawa (1910-1998), who by the close of his career was hailed as a cinematic "giant" and one of the most influential directors in the history of the industry. Kurosawa's breakthrough film "Rashomon" won the Academy Award for Best Foreign Film in 1951 and launched a decade of landmark films that included "Seven Samurai" (1954) and "Throne of Blood" (1957). He also earned an Oscar for "Dersu Uzala" (1975), and was given an honorary Academy Award for lifetime achievement in 1990. His films employed an impressive use of widescreen cinematography and displayed a unique blend of traditional Japanese theatrical forms with Western styles of filmmaking.
Born the youngest of eight children in Tokyo in 1910, Kurosawa turned to the cinema after failing to get into art school as a painter. He began his filmmaking career as an assistant director and by 1941 was writing scripts and directing major film sequences for other directors films. At age 33, he directed his first film, and then in 1950 came the Oscar-winning "Rashomon," in which a single violent event was retold in completely different versions from the point of view of the individual participants. There then followed a dry period in Kurosawa's creativity, during which he attempted suicide when he suffered a box-office failure in 1971. Because his films required big budgets, he was often refused funding by Japanese studios and forced to look elsewhere for support. Fortunately for movie-lovers worldwide he succeeded in finding the backing needed for leaving them a legacy of 30 major cinematic works of art. Kurosawa was married to actress Yoko Yaguchi, who died in 1985 after 35 years of marriage. Besides son Hisao, they had a daughter, Kazuko.
Ronald Hilton 2004
February 2, 2005