Akira Kurosawa The samurai master
Today i talk about Akira Kurosawa again in my follow up to my throne of blood review. Akira Kurosawa directed 30 films in a career spanning 57 yet many know so much about one of his personal trademarks of many of his movies which has samurais so today in the first part of My tribute articles to this master as I promised a string of reviews to honor him I am not letting down as today I follow up with my first part of three tribute articles to this master as each will explore a different side of this master. So today I honor Akira Kurosawa by talking about three classic samurai movies that still last the test of time as this is part one of three as i will follow up with two follow up articles named Akira Kurosawa cinematic artist then Kurosawa noir to end the tribute string. So today i start the tribute by talking these three classics by the master.
Akira Kurosawa’s Yojimbo begins with a ronin, a masterless samurai who wanders here and there making a living by his sword, at a literal crossroads. He arrives at a gang-war ravaged town and starts hiring himself out to both sides, playing them off against another, in order to wipe all the scum out. Akira Kurosawa draws upon john ford’s westerns in this movie as we see the wondering ronin coming into town as same vain as in john ford westerns a wondering man comes into town by chance. It’s the western meeting the culture of Japan.
Toshiro Mifune enters scene as the wondering ronin. Like many of his roles he truly plays his finest role on the screen. He plays up a role that is likely among best of his roles ever to the screen. Like so many Greek plays, the character descends into a lowly town and pulls the strings on human puppets until they destroy each other. He just strings it along as he manages to save the town as any good hero would do. Toshirô Mifune his charm just pours trough it. It’s truly a wonder of an actor to watch play out each scene on screen in each scene of this movie. Everyone in the cast gives such amazing performances. The direction of the movie is outstanding.
Akira Kurosawa’s Yojimbo is often mistaken for escapist fare along with many of his other classics in that regard that is wrong to class it as such. The anti-hero in Yojimbo is unique as he truly is not seeking anything to gain out of this. It’s truly a western hero ideal drawn from westerns by john ford. Yojimbo is the best-photographed of Kurosawa’s films. It’s a masterful tale that really does feel like a masterpiece that one should watch today.
The Ruth rating:
The hidden fortress review
Although calling Star Wars a re-make of The Hidden Fortress would be an immense stretch, the two films do share common elements which happen often in film as many films take elements form past movies using them as it’s what continues on the tradition of movies in Hollywood.
Watching The Hidden Fortress, one would never guess that this was the first time that Kurosawa utilized the new CinemaScope (TohoScope) format as he works it just as skillful as any director.
The hidden fortress starts with its two main characters Tahei and Matakashi (played by Minoru Chiaki and Kamatari Fujiwara) walking through a war torn country side. They have just escaped from an internment camp after a recent great battle. The two had been forced to dig graves as prisoners and they are already, at the start of the movie.
It is the lightest of the Akira Kurosawa samurai epics. It’s a fun filled adventure epic filled with humor. It deserves far more love then just the movie that inspired star wars. . The hidden fortress is a unique delight in the Kurosawa canon, balancing wry humor and deep empathy on the line between realism and fairy tale. It is a surely masterfully acted action movie with such powerful performances by everyone in its cast. It stars the great Toshirô Mifune whom plays a fine role but the finest roles in this movie goes to Minoru Chiaki and Kamatari Fujiwara whom is playing the duo that leads the charge as they truly are the best as bring human and wit to a samurai epic Misa Uehara as Princess Yuki truly is also giving us a fine performance as the inspiration for the princess in star war wars you can see how she inspires such. The acting is wonderfully done by everyone in the cast with outstanding direction. The Hidden Fortress remains a great adventure permeated with humor and nobility that continues to inspire many classics to come. It’s truly a masterful classic.
The Ruth rating:
Sanjuro is, as the title suggests, the sequel to the immensely popular Yojimbo. It is, in fact, the only sequel that Kurosawa would ever make.
Akira Kurosawa’s sequel Sanjuro redefines the role of the anti-hero played again by Toshiro Mifune by depicting his violent existence as a tarnished bushido ideal. In Yojimbo we see him more willing to kill but here he holds back often. Toshiro Mifune plays one of his most likable roles as His portrayal of Sanjuro will inspire countless samurais to come on the screen. It’s the way that the character comes off as a very noble samurai willing to kill for sport when it the moment arises. It’s truly a wonderfully deep role that is masterfully acted by this marvelous actor.
I have always preferred this to the much slower Yojimbo that this classic moves much faster and feels less like the western ideal image of the samurai. It’s more a traditional view of them in their times. It’s the way that truly feels raw and real for its capturing of this noble class. This is again wonderful acting by everyone in cast along with masterful direction by Akira Kurosawa as it’s a great entry into the works of this master. This is truly one of the finest of movies that really stands as a masterpiece that should be seen today.
The Ruth rating:
I hope you enjoyed this string of reviews honoring Akira Kurosawa i will continue on in my next two parts honoring him. So thanks for joining again for another artcle honoring this master.