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At the Movies

Michael Wood: Kurosawa

22 February 2007
... his living by his craftiness or by his sword? He is that recurring figure in Japanese movies, the dismissed, masterless samurai. The time is 1860, pretty late for samurai in general, and the film is AkiraKurosawa’s Yojimbo (1961). The Criterion Collection issued a DVD version of this film in 1999, along with its sequel Sanjuro: yojimbo means ‘bodyguard’, and Sanjuro is the Mifune character’s ...
8 March 1990
Satyajit Ray: The Inner Eye 
by Andrew Robinson.
Deutsch, 412 pp., £17.95, November 1989, 0 233 98473 9
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... I can never forget the excitement in my mind after seeing it,’ AkiraKurosawa said about Satyajit Ray’s first film, Pather Panchali (The Song of the Little Road), and it’s true: this movie, made for next to nothing, mostly with untrained actors, by a director who was ...
21 November 1985
Money into Light 
by John Boorman.
Faber, 241 pp., £4.95, September 1985, 0 571 13731 8
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... this novel. When Ran or ‘Chaos’, a Japanese version of King Lear, opens in London next year, it will doubtless be accompanied by A.K., Chris Marker’s documentary on its veteran director AkiraKurosawa. The plum documentary on the toils of film-making remains, however, Les Blank’s Burden of Dreams, a record of the Amazonian shoot of Fitzcarraldo (in an attempt to bring Caruso to the Indians, a ...

The Person in the Phone Booth

David Trotter: Phone Booths

28 January 2010
... as he stands rigid in the booth after putting the phone down, could easily be construed as tenderness. It is indeed a look given. One person who may have noticed it was a young Japanese director, AkiraKurosawa. Kurosawa’s tenth film as director, Stray Dog (1949), is a Simenon-like thriller about a young detective, Murukami (Toshiro Mifune), whose gun goes missing. With some help from the older ...

At the Movies

Michael Wood: ‘A Fistful of Dollars’

25 April 2018
... Well, nothing is beyond recall if we really need it, but we are going to have to work harder at the distancing, all-American fantasy. To start with, A Fistful of Dollars is an elegant remake of AkiraKurosawa’s Yojimbo (1961). It was shot in Spain, with a large contingent of Italian actors. There are Germans playing Mexicans and Americans, and the only American here is Clint Eastwood, a ...

Unlike Kafka

Amit Chaudhuri

8 June 1995
The Unconsoled 
by Kazuo Ishiguro.
Faber, 535 pp., £15.99, May 1995, 9780571173877
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... But for the story of the personal implications of national shame or guilt in English, one has to turn to a Japanese writer, Ishiguro, and to his mentors, the Japanese filmmakers; not the flamboyant Kurosawa, but the equally gifted Ozu. Ishiguro’s first two novels were profoundly cinematic in their technique: the subtle shifts of light – the medium out of which, and into which, cinema is created – ...

Smilingly Excluded

Richard Lloyd Parry: An Outsider in Tokyo

17 August 2006
The Japan Journals: 1947-2004 
by Donald Richie, edited by Leza Lowitz.
Stone Bridge, 494 pp., £13.99, October 2005, 1 880656 97 3
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... of the second half of the 20th century. The index to The Japan Journals consists of a list of Richie’s acquaintances, followed by their professions. The first page alone includes Akihito (emperor), Akira (barboy), Tadashi Asami (tattooed man), John Ashbery (poet), Richard Avedon (photographer), Tamasaburo Bando (kabuki actor), Cecil Beaton (photographer/designer) and Truman Capote (author). He ...

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