Kurosawa, Akira

The Columbia Encyclopedia, 6th ed.

Kurosawa, Akira

Akira Kurosawa (äkē´rä kōōrō´säwä), 1910–98, Japanese film director, scriptwriter, and producer, b. Tokyo. He is regarded as one of the world's greatest directors. In Rashomon (1950), he introduced Western audiences to Japanese film. Its bleakly humanistic stance toward the slippery nature of truth and its highly charged visual style marked Kurosawa's approach. His 29 other films range freely through history, often adapting classics of Western literature, including several of Shakespeare's plays, to Japanese settings and attitudes. His films include Ikiru (1952), a moving study of an elderly bureaucrat facing death from cancer; Seven Samurai (1954), an epic adventure; Throne of Blood (1957), an adaption of Macbeth; Yojimbo (1961), a rousing Japanese-style Western; Ran (1985), a sweeping version of King Lear; Akira Kurosawa's Dreams (1990), surreal vignettes that present an apocalyptic vision of human civilization; Rhapsody in August (1991), a grandmother's painful recollection of the Nagasaki bombing; and his last work, Madadayo (1993), a small, serene, and touching account of an elderly and beloved professor. In 1989 he received an Academy Award for the body of his work.

See his autobiography (1982); studies by D. Richie (1965, 1970); S. Galbraith 4th, The Emperor and the Wolf: The Lives and Films of Akira Kurosawa and Toshiro Mifune (2002).

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