Akira Kurosawa (1910-1998), was hailed as a cinematic "giant" and one of the most influential directors in the history of the industry, whose work was acclaimed throughout the world. Born as the youngest of eight children in Tokyo in 1910. A combustible mix of influences fired the visions of young Kurosawa. Kurosawa turned to the cinema after failing to get into art school as a painter and began his film-making career as an assistant director in 1936. By 1941 he was writing scripts and directing major film sequences for other directors films. At age 33, he directed his first film, Sugata Sanshirô (1943). Within a few years, Kurosawa had achieved sufficient stature to allow him greater creative freedom.
- Trade Mark : Frequently uses the "wipe effect" to fade from one scene to another. This effect later became famous due to its usage in the Star Wars trilogy. Likes to do Shakespearean plays in Japanese settings. Use of weather to heighten mood, most obviously rain.
- In 1950 he directed Oscar-nominated "Rashomon," in which a single violent event was retold in completely different versions from the point of view of the individual participants. Rashomon is not just a movie but a term of art, a building block for future productions, and a cultural reference understood around the world.
- He was voted the 6th greatest director of all time by Entertainment Weekly, making him the only Asian on a list of 50 directors. Ranked #6 in Empire (UK) magazine's "The Greatest directors ever!"
- Because he could not get film financing for a period of time in his career, he directed and even appeared in Japanese television commercials. In December 1971, after a period of suffering from mental fatigue and frustrated with a run of unsatisfying directing work, Kurosawa attempted suicide by slashing his wrist. Fortunately, the wounds were not fatal and he made a full recovery.
- His two favorite actors to work with were apparently Takashi Shimura and, more famously, Toshirô Mifune. Kurosawa made 16 films with Mifune (almost always in a leading role) and 21 films with Shimura.
- He was a fan of the films of Satyajit Ray and Sergei M. Eisenstein, who, like Kurosawa, edited his own films.
- His films are frequently copied and remade by American and European filmmakers. Shichinin no samurai (1954) ("The Seven Samurai") was remade as The Magnificent Seven (1960), and Yôjinbô (1961) ("The Bodyguard") was remade as A Fistful of Dollars(1964). Star Wars have drawn inspiration from the movie The Hidden Fortress.
- He was infamous for his perfectionism. He would ask the actors in his period films to wear their costumes for several weeks, daily, before filming so that they would look natural. He rarely thought about anything other than films. Even when at home, he would sit around silently, apparently composing shots in his head.
- Kurosawa received an Honorary Oscar Award in 1990 "For cinematic accomplishments that have inspired, delighted, enriched and entertained worldwide audiences and influenced filmmakers throughout the world." Awarded the French Legion of Honor, 1984.
"With a good script, a good director can produce a masterpiece. With the same script, a mediocre director can produce a passable film. But with a bad script even a good director can't possibly make a good film."
"Movie directors, or should I say people who create things, are very greedy and they can never be satisfied... That's why they can keep on working. I've been able to work for so long because I think next time, I'll make something good."
"Human beings are unable to be honest with themselves about themselves. They cannot talk about themselves without embellishing."
Kurosawa's life became known around the world for his life-affirming, humanistic art. He is concerned with the human lot above all else and he particularly insists upon the equality of all human emotion. All of his films share this basic assumption. Kurosawa's films had taken so experimental and original form, which in the end may just sum up his own personality and life.
Notable Films : Rashomon, Seven Samurai, Throne of Blood, Yojimbo, Dersu Uzala, Kagemusha, Ran.
Kurosawa's Honorary Oscar: