Akira Kurosawa

by Ellen Peterson | Sep 21, 2021

Akira Kurosawa is possibly the greatest Japanese filmmaker of all time. If you’ve seen a movie made after the 1960’s, you can almost be guaranteed that the director, writer, or cinematographer (or all three) were inspired in some way by him. He’s known for meticulous script writing, unique shots and transitions, strong, almost stage-play-like acting, and great scene-setting filled with movement that gives all the shots a lot of life.

Seven Samurai
by Akira Kurosawa

A poor farming village hires samurai to protect them and their harvest from an impending bandit raid. It’s been done dozens of times since but was certainly done best by Akira Kurosawa. The movie was six months behind schedule and cost more than 3 times its initial budget but it quickly made that much back upon its theatrical release as a huge hit. To this day it is still considered by many to be the greatest Japanese film ever made.

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Throne of Blood
by Akira Kurosawa

One of the most unique and critically acclaimed film adaptations of Shakespeare’s Macbeth. To take a classic English work and transpose it into a Japanese work is no easy feat but it was masterfully done and well worth a watch.

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Hidden Fortress
by Akira Kurosawa

Hidden Fortress is an action comedy that came after several darker films by Kurosawa. While most famous for inspiring George Lucas in creating the plot of his first Star Wars movie, Hidden Fortress holds up completely on its own.

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High and Low
by Akira Kurosawa

While most famous for his Samurai movies, Kurosawa did some of his best work set in present day Japan. Kidnappers grab the wrong child and a wealthy executive is tested on how much he’s willing to sacrifice to save the life of his driver’s son. An absolute must-watch as much for its acting as for its thriller plot and cinematography.

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Kagemusha
by Akira Kurosawa

Originally lacking enough funding, George Lucas and Francis Ford Coppola convinced the studio to step up and make up the difference. A man destined for execution is saved because he looks so similar to a political figure as to be useful as a decoy. War rages on as things are held in a delicate balance by a petty criminal’s ability to impersonate the great warrior he resembles.

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