So how many people are familiar with Akira Kurosawa? I would guess the majority of Americans don’t even know who he is. And even if they did, who wants to see Japanese movies anyway? Well, I’ll tell you who should want to — everyone. Akira Kurosawa is one of the greatest directors of all-time. He is my favorite, and I don’t think my second or third (Sir David Lean or Sergio Leone) really come close. He was named Asian of the Century in the Arts, Literature, and Culture category. He was named 1 of 5 people who contributed to the betterment of Asia in the past 100 years. One of the other 4 include some player named Gandhi. (Though he says that he is not a player, he just walks a lot.)
So why was Kurosawa good? You should see a movie to make that decision. However his use of multiple cameras so that the actors have no idea which would be used in the film, the wipe in between scenes (see Star Wars), and his editing every day (Yojimbo came out 4 days after he finished shooting…4 DAYS!) are three of the most popular things about his work. And that work was loved by Federico Fellini, Ingmar Bergman, Francis Ford Coppola, Steven Spielberg, Martin Scorsese, and George Lucas. Hell even Coppola said, “One thing that distinguishes [him] is that he didn’t make one masterpiece or two masterpieces. He made, you know, eight masterpieces.”
So what movies were good? A bunch, but I will recommend 5. The first two are Yojimbo and Sanjuro, frequently found together because they have the same main character. Yojimbo is so good that it’s in my top 5 movies of all-time. It has a homeless samurai walking around and going in a town where rivaling men have their henchmen do the fighting. It was so good Sergio Leone made A Fistfull of Dollars with Clint Eastwood and got in trouble because he actually remade the film with cowboy hats instead of swords. The other three I would definitely see are Kagemusha, Roshomon, and The Hidden Fortress. And the two men in the Hidden Fortress gave George Lucas the idea for R2-D2 and C-3PO. That enough should tell you to go see Kurosawa!