Classic Film Club


Akira Kurosawa

Akira Kurosawa



Akira Kurosawa [黒澤明] was born in Tokyo, Japan, in 1910.   His father was a junior high school physical education instructor.

Kurosawa originally wanted to be a painter and tried to make a living at it while rooming with his older brother, a silent film narrator. Two years after his brother’s suicide in 1933, Kurosawa applied to Photo Chemical Laboratories (PCL) to become an assistant film director.   He soon began to write screenplays.   PCL later became part of Toho.

Kurosawa was credited for his first screenplay in 1942.   The next year he wrote and directed his first film, Sanshiro Sugata (1943).

He won the Mainichi Film Award for Best Director for One Wonderful Sunday (1947) and received the Mainichi Best Film Award for Drunken Angel (1948).   He went on to win Mainichi Best Film and Best Screenplay honors for Ikiru (1952), High and Low (1963) and garnered another Best Film honor for Red Beard (1965).

But his next releases were not as successful at the box office and Kurosawa soon found himself unable to finance his films. Despondent, he attempted suicide in 1971.

Meanwhile, outside of Japan, his reputation continued to grow among filmmakers influenced by his work.

Kurosawa initially achieved international acclaim with Rashomon (1950), becoming the first Japanese director to win top honors at the Venice Film Festival.   Subsequent films only increased his stature as one of the world’s top film directors.   Seven Samurai (1954), his first attempt at a samurai film, became both the most expensive and the most successful film released in Japan up to that time, creating a new high mark for the genre.   It is still considered one of his finest works.

But in 1975, after several years of unsuccessfully trying to finance another one of his films, the Soviet studio Mosfilm reached out and signed him to direct a Russian language picture.   Dersu Uzala was an international success and the film won the Academy Award for Foreign Language film.

Film directors George Lucas and Francis Ford Coppola co-produced his next motion picture, the internationally acclaimed hit Kagemusha (1980).   He received his only Academy Award nomination for Director for his next endeavor, Ran (1985).

After more than 30 directorial efforts, his last film was released in 1993.

Kurosawa married the actress Yōko Yaguchi in 1945 and the couple raised two children.   She passed away in 1985.   His son is the film producer Hisao Kurosawa and his daughter the costume designer Kazuko Kurosawa.

He died of a stroke in Tokyo, Japan, in 1998, at the age of 88.

Other Pictures

Akira Kurosawa



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