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Kurosawa

Japan Cinema

Japanese Cinema

Japanese Film

J. Film Directors

Reading a JF

Kurosawa Bio

Archetypes of JF

Golden Age of JC

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2007 class -- Dreams (Storm, Tunnel)

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Kurosawa

"Human beings are unable to be honest with themselves. They cannot talk about themselves without embellishing. This script ["Rashomon"] portrays such human beings - the kind who cannot survive without lies to make them feel they are better people than they really are. It even shows this sinful need for flattering falsehood going beyond the grave - even the character who dies cannot give up his lies when he speaks to the living through a medium. Egoism is a sin the human being carries with him from birth; it it the most difficult to redeem. This film is like a strange picture scroll that is unscrolled and displayed by the ego." (from "Something Like an Autobiography" by Kurosawa)
In 1936, young Akira Kurosawa worked as an assistant director in a Eastern cinema studio by day, but studied Western painting, literature and political philosophy at night. His noteworthy scripts, called scenarios, on JUDO SAGA (1943) began to shape his style under the tutelage of Japan's premiere director Yamamoto Kajiro.
However, it was Kurosawa's direction of DRUNKEN ANGEL (1948) that made a name for the scenarist, as well as for the actor who would be forever connected with him, Mifune Toshiro.

[ some guidelines are in the right table ]

HISTORY:
Period (Japan after WWII)
Traditions: Art, Literature, Philosophy

IMAGES
Dreams

"Kurosawa: Film Studies and Japanese Cinema is nearly flawless. A single book, even a big one, cannot exhaust all the complexities surrounding Kurosawa. It is enough for now that Yoshimoto points out some of the most intriguing places in the director's world, including areas of "anxiety" in Japanese and foreign language criticism. Incorporating questions of authorship, genre, narrative structure, popular memory, and a close scrutiny of images, Yoshimoto folds discussion of the films into broader questions about Japanese cinema and its use value for Western film studies."

Dreams

"...Still, the issue of authorship, and auteurism, plays a major role. There is insightful discussion of the uses of autobiography, where Yoshimoto uses the notion of the "autobiographical pact" (Philippe Lejeune, 1989). More like a ploy than a pact, it describes an artist who casts doubt on his autobiographical writings, interviews, and recollections, the better to commend his oeuvre as a reflection on himself. Thus, parallels between Kurosawa's life and films (e.g., Dreams, 1990), not only in substance but also in pattern, technique, and form, enable the questioning of memory and autobiography as privileged touchstones."

Dreams2

"... the primacy effect of memory (over imagination) and of originality (over adaptation or translation) are brought up short. The interrogation of such binaries is connected to Kurosawa's reputation as an individualist director who found his true voice in the postwar era of reconstruction and Japanese modernization. It also problematizes easy discriminations between prewar Japanese militarism and postwar pacificism and democracy, punctuated by tenko (conversion) that supposedly washes away wartime culpability. This issue is discussed fully in two of the book's best chapters, on No Regrets for our Youth (1946) and Stray Dog (1949)."

Dreams3

"'In Kurosawa's films, a limited set of simple motifs are presented first, and then they go through a series of transformations. Every time basic motifs are repeated, they are slightly displaced and changed. The film as a whole consists of their variations and permutations, which are tightly interconnected in fuguelike construction. (310)'"

Dreams4

"Yoshimoto is outstanding in the way he handles problems of theatricality: Kurosawa's relations with Kabuki (Men Who Tread on the Tiger's Tail, 1945), with Noh (Throne of Blood, 1957; Kagemusha, 1980), with Shakespeare, and with jidaigeki (period drama) as a whole. He argues that jidaigeki is not a bastion of tradition and feudalism: "The assertion that by idealizing feudalistic social relations jidaigeki functioned as an ideological apparatus of Japanese militarism is basically a fiction" (224)."

7

"Japanese cinema is, or was, not just part of (as an addition or parallel development) but constitutive of film studies. To be legitimated as an academic discipline, film studies needed to universalize. University courses and scholarly publications constructed film as an international art form; it was not faceless commercial entertainment, but modernist work by auteurs such as Bergman, Fellini, and Kurosawa that called for academic work on film. Cinema's international dimension and scope justified a new academic unit: it had artists, various nationalities, and interdisciplinary affiliations. Articulations of film studies' universality came from mainly Anglo-American academics and writers, and in their priorities we see the boundaries and exclusions underwriting the discipline." [ all quotes are from Film Quarterly ]

Film is nothing else but the subtext!

The 2nd half of the 20th century: Film and Freud (inner monsters)

Existential Roots of film sensetivity: existence before essense = becoming is being.

Forms of God (Holy Spirit and Language of Angels): non-human forms of communications -- we are ready to express ourselves and understand the universe (aqliens and alienation) -- and our communication with each other became simular to our communications with our own Self!

Poetry of Light: "our fears" (terror, horror) -- and hopes...

Film = magic mirror or magic glass?
Space and Time, according to Kurosawa (chronotope).

Analysis of primary and secondary motions.

music = nature of film language: polyphonic principle, dialogue and dialectics, montage and fugue. [Compare with Bergman -- no CUs? compare with "Flying Tiger" > Dreams Aesthetics (topics -- magic realism? Storytelling Style?

10 Stories = Fillini's multiplots (episodic structure): thematics continuety, not through the plot, not even through the hero! Rashamon and Dreams -- Kurosawa as storyteller. "Fantastic Realism" (Dostoevsky). What is Real?

Kurosawa

Akira Kurosawa List, links don't work!
1. Rhapsody in August (1993)
2. Dreams (1990)
3.Ran (1985)
4. Kagemusha (1980)
5. Dersu Uzala (1975)
6. Dodes 'Ka-Den (1970)
7. I Live in Fear (1967)
8. Red Beard (1965)
9. High and Low (1962)
10. Sanjuro (1962)
11. Yojimbo (1962)
12. The Bad Sleep Well (1960)
13. Hidden Fortress (1958)
14. The Lower Depths (1957)
15. Throne of Blood (1957)
16. Seven Samurai (1954)
17. Seven Samurai, The Special LD Edition (1954)
18. Ikiru (1952)
19. Rashomon (1951)
20. The Idiot (1951)

Then came RASHOMON (1950). The Grand Prix finalist at the Venice Film Festival it drew international raves for its four separate accounts of the same event. Not even the unorthodox structure of CITIZEN KANE (1941) used cinema to probe for truth as Kurosawa had. Filled with beautiful black and white photography and dynamic montage, his movement of the camera and use of long shots complemented the complex and circular story. The much heralded script of Quentin Tarantino's PULP FICTION (1994) owes much to the film.

The Japanese 16th century civil war gave THE SEVEN SAMURAI (1954) and Kurosawa a setting for themes of heroism. Paying tribute to the Hollywood western, Kurosawa introduced the wandering samurai in the "chambara" or swordsman film for which he would be most closely associated. The film inspired a Hollywood remake and the cycle of influence continued with Akira's KAGEMUSHA (1980). Despite his adaptations of gangster genres and period epics, the public best loved the violent fight scenes of these samurai classics.

Dostoevsky and Shakespeare were successfully adapted in THE IDIOT (1951) and RAN (1985). Many of Kurosawa's literary adaptations were never filmed, but later collected and published in books.

During an extended period of depression in the 60s Japanese film industry, Kurosawa began looking for a chance to migrate to Hollywood. Kurosawa agreed to shoot the 1968 war spectacle TORA! TORA! TORA! for 20th Century-Fox. However, halfway through the Pearl Harbor attack scene, he was replaced with another director and gave up any future ideas of working abroad.

The grand imagery of Kurosawa's greatest films transcended to an intellectual depth seen best in the literal AKIRA KUROSAWA'S DREAMS (1990) Unquestionably the best known Eastern filmmaker, he drew knowledge of ancient Japanese traditions into a modern Western art form, influencing writers and directors along the way.

BORN: March 23, 1910 in Omori, Japan
DIED: 1998

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