Akira Kurosawa The Master of Arts

Akira Kurosawa: The Master of Arts by Sunita Singh

The role of the artist is to not look awaythese were the words of Akira Kurosawa, a man who is counted as one of the influential filmmakers in the history of cinema.

Born on 23rd March 1910, in Shinagawa, a city in Tokyo, Japan, the illustrious director, screenwriter directed 30 films in his career spanning 57 years. He started his career in the film industry in 1936 following a brief stint as a painter. Before entering into the mainstream movie business Kurosawa worked as an assistant director and scriptwriter until 1943. During the time of World War II, he made his debut film, ‘Sanshiro Sugata’ or Judo Saga. Later on, he became popular with the critically acclaimed movie, ‘Drunken Angel’. It was only after the release of Judo Saga that the critics of the time considered this director of the influential movie makers. After the commercial success of his movie ‘Drunken Angel’, he then released his next international hit movie, ‘Rashomon’. With a completely innovative story, this movie received the Academy Award for the Best Foreign Film.

The film Rashomon, which premiered in Tokyo, became the winner of the Golden Lion in 1951 at the Venice film festival. The success of Rashomon opened Western film markets for the primary time of the Japanese movie industry, which successively led to international recognition for other Japanese filmmakers. Kurosawa directed almost a film every year throughout the 1950s and in the early 1960s, including highly regarded (mostly adapted) films, like Ikiru (1952), Seven Samurai (1954), and Yojimbo (1961). After the 1960s Kurosawa became much less inventive; even so, his later work including his final two epics, Kagemusha (1980) and Ran (1985) he then continued to win awards more often abroad than in Japan.

Kurosawa’s technique of filmmaking was used for subsequent generations by various filmmakers and of international influence. Kurosawa’s filmmaking process was oriented extensively with numerous aspects of film production. He was also an efficient screenwriter who would add close contact together with his writers very early within the production cycle to make sure top quality within the scripts which might be used for his films. Kurosawa wasn’t only a visible stylist but also a thoughtful humanist. His films had a gutsy, exhilarating visual freedom, and a heart of deep human understanding. He often made movies about heroes, but their challenge wasn’t simply to win; it had been to form the proper ethical choice.

Kurosawa’s artistic framing describes his attention towards film making and also sometimes went beyond the eye which directors would normally expect to use with their cameramen. Throughout his career, Kurosawa worked constantly with people drawn from an equivalent pool of creative technicians, crew members and actors popularly referred to as the “Kurosawa-gumi”.

If we look at his early films, although they were consistently well photographed, Kurosawa generally used standard lenses and deep-focus photography. The director claimed that he used these lenses and several other cameras rolling directly to assist the actors—allowing them to be photographed at a long way from the lens, and with no knowledge of which particular camera’s image would be utilized within the final cut—making their performances far more natural. But these changes had a strong effect also on the design of the action scenes therein film, particularly the ultimate battle within the rain.

His films fall under three overlapping categories, there have been the samurai dramas, steeped in Japanese histories, like “The Seven Samurai” (remade by the Hollywood film industry as “The Magnificent Seven”) and “The Hidden Fortress” (which was again inspired the characters R2D2 and C3PO in the sci-fi movie Star Wars). there have been literary adaptations, from sources like Shakespeare and Dostoyevsky but also American crime writers. And there have been contemporary stories, about ordinary people faced with ethical dilemmas.

Few Japanese directors would have thought to adapt one among Ed McBain’s crime stories, for instance, but Kurosawa, reading treasure, found the materials for one among his most challenging films, “High and Low” (1962). In the film, a man is told that his son has been kidnapped and he must sell everything to boost the ransom. Later on, it’s discovered that the kidnapper had mistakenly kidnapped the son of the millionaire’s chauffeur instead. Now the dilemma is, Is this boy worth the same ransom? Because the eyes of the millionaire and therefore the working man meet during a shot of stunning power, Kurosawa confronts the question of whether all lives are equal.

The same question was approached indifferently in “Kagemusha” (1980), a few thieves who look exactly sort of like a warlord who has just died. to stay the death a secret, the lord’s men install the double in his position. to possess the facility, the position, the costumes, and therefore the riches of a lord, but to not be the lord, is that the dilemma of the “shadow warrior”. For the film Red Beard, Kurosawa had his assistants dismantle rotten wood from old sets to create the prop from scratch with this old wood, therefore the gate would look properly ravaged by time. For an equivalent film, for teacups that appeared within the movie, his crew poured fifty years’ worth of tea into the cups in order that they would seem appropriately stained.

Nature plays a crucial element in Kurosawa’s films. Stephen Prince says, “Kurosawa’s sensibility, like that of many Japanese artists, is keenly sensitive to the subtleties and beauties of season and scenery”. Kurosawa himself once said, “I like hot summers, cold winters, heavy rains, and snows, and I think most of my pictures show this. I like extremes because I find the most alive.”

Rain in Kurosawa’s films is never treated neutrally. When it occurs, it is never a drizzle or a light mist but always a wild downpour, a driving storm”. The final battle (in Seven Samurai) is a supreme spiritual and physical struggle, and it is fought in a blinding rainstorm, which enables the director to visualize an ultimate fusion of social groups, but this climactic vision of classlessness, with typical Kurosawa equivocation. The battle between swirling rain and mud is presented as a fusion of social identity and an expression of hellish chaos.

Akira Kurosawa’s Rashomon is among the revered director’s most ambitious narrative accomplishments. It’s the story of a samurai who is murdered within the woods together with his wife, but it’s also a story told from four perspectives: the wife’s, the bandit suspected of the crime, a woodcutter who was witness to the crime, and even the samurai himself via a medium. By using flashbacks and innovative camera techniques, Kurosawa pits these perspectives against one another and in their variances and similarities, the falsities are slowly peeled away. it’s also a movie that flourishes thanks to its polarizing material because it weaves between several eyewitness accounts of murder and possible rape. During this film, Kurosawa framed the characters allowing the camera to be manipulated and to inform its own story. Because several stories are being told that manipulate and deceive the camera morphs into each character’s story. Rashomon perhaps is often considered because the first films wherein the impartiality of the camera is questioned, many films like Iron Maze (1991), viewpoint (2008) have tried to duplicate it but a really few, if any in the least, are successful. Such films forget one basic fundamental thing, if the camera doesn’t mold into the character’s account of the story, then the premise remains hollow. He allowed his camera to be swayed by the character’s words and that we often see that he would place/block his characters ahead of the camera and would tell his own story. In Rashomon, he deployed wide shots to disconnect the audience from the character telling his or her account of the story.

When Rashomon was screened in Venice then it went into international distribution, it stunned audiences. Nobody had ever seen a movie quite like this one. For one thing, it was a bold move to choose a nonlinear approach to narrative that shows the small print of the crime as they’re related, through the flashbacks. Kurosawa gives us four versions of an equivalent series of events, through the eyes of the woodcutter, the thief, the woman, and therefore the spirit of the husband, each retelling markedly different from the others.

Rashomon is such a rare film that went beyond its own status as a film. Its very name has entered the common parlance to symbolize general notions about the relativity of truth and therefore the unreliability, the inevitable subjectivity of memory. It’s a movie with a lot of ideas, made with significant artists, and with a classy artsy design.

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