Akira Kurosawa Poster

Trivia (47)

His films are frequently copied and remade by American and European filmmakers.

In December 1971, after a period of suffering from mental fatigue and frustrated with a run of unsatisfying and sub par directing work, Kurosawa attempted suicide by slashing his wrist thirty times with a razor. Fortunately, the wounds were not fatal and he made a full recovery.

Because he could not get film financing for a period of time in his career, he directed and even appeared in Japanese television commercials.

At around 6' feet, he was extremely tall by Japanese standards, having stood a head taller than any of his colleagues.

Although the Japanese press tried to paint him as a tyrant, almost all of his casts and crews agreed he was a much more cool and detached presence on sets. Many also described him as "intense".

He was voted the 6th greatest director of all time by Entertainment Weekly, making him one among only two Asians along with Satyajit Ray (who is ranked in 25th position) on a list of 50 directors and the highest ranking non-American.

Biography in: John Wakeman, editor. "World Film Directors, Volume One, 1890- 1945". Pages 583-605. New York: The H.W. Wilson Company, 1987.

Kurosawa worshiped legendary American director John Ford, his primary influence as a filmmaker. When the two met, Ford was uncommonly pleasant to the younger Japanese filmmaker and afterwards Kurosawa dressed in a similar fashion to Ford when on film sets. When Kurosawa eventually met Ford in the early 60's, Ford said to him:"You really like rain!" To which a delighted Kurosawa replied "You've really watched my films!".

Unbeknownst to many people, Kurosawa had always wanted to make a Godzilla film of his own, but the executives at Toho Co., Ltd. (the Japanese studio that produces all the Godzilla films) wouldn't let him because they feared it would cost too much.

According to his family, he rarely thought about anything other than films. Even when at home, he would sit around silently, apparently composing shots in his head.

He had a son Hisao (b. 20-Dec-1945), and a daughter, award-winning film costume designer Kazuko (b. 29-Apr-1954).

His Dodes'ka-den (1970), Dersu Uzala (1975) and Kagemusha (1980) were Oscar-nominated for "Best Foreign Language Film". "Dersu Uzala" won. Rashomon (1950) won an Honorary Award as the most outstanding foreign language film released in the United States during 1951.

Ranked #6 in Empire (UK) magazine's "The Greatest directors ever!" [2005]

In the 1990s he referred to Kagemusha (1980), which some have considered a great film on its own, as a mere "dress rehearsal" for Ran (1985) (both are epics about failing emperors set roughly in the same historical era), with the latter film having been his passion for roughly a decade before he made it.

His two favorite actors to work with were apparently Takashi Shimura and, more famously, Toshirô Mifune. Kurosawa made 16 films with Mifune (almost always in a leading role) and 21 films with Shimura (in either a leading or supporting role).

He worked with most of his cast and crew members repeatedly, similarly to the way his idol John Ford used the same people again and again. When Kurosawa was at his working peak, it was widely thought that if he didn't work with an actor or crew member again, the implication was that he did not like them.

He was born the youngest of four children for Isamu and Shima Kurosawa. As a child, he revered his elder brother Heigo. While young Akira was mainly into painting, Heigo was a film-lover and worked as a "benshi", a narrator/ commentator for foreign silent films. Akira's love for film was handed down from his brother. Unfortunately, Heigo suffered from depression and committed suicide. Short thereafter, both Akira's eldest brother and only sister died from illnesses, leaving Akira the only remaining child. His siblings' deaths (particularly that of Heigo) was a traumatic experience for Akira and is thought to have considerably darkened his world view.

He was a fan of the films of Satyajit Ray.

Several of his films have been remade in America as westerns. Seven Samurai (1954) ("The Seven Samurai") was remade as The Magnificent Seven (1960), and Yojimbo (1961) ("The Bodyguard") was remade as A Fistful of Dollars (1964). In addition, The Hidden Fortress (1958) ("The Hidden Fortress") was a major inspiration for the "Star Wars" saga, which takes many inspirations from westerns and is often referred to as a space western. Common story elements include Gen. Makabe, who became Obi-Wan Kenobi; Princess Yuki, who became Princess Leia and whose trick of disguising herself as a handmaiden would later be used by Queen Amidala; and the farmers from whose viewpoint the film is told, Matashichi and Tahei, whose constant bickering inspired C-3PO and R2-D2.

One his closest friends was Ishirô Honda, the writer-director behind Godzilla (1954).

He was infamous for his perfectionism. Among the related tales are his insisting a stream be made to run in the opposite direction in order to get a better visual effect, and having the roof of a house removed, later to be replaced, because he felt the roof's presence to be unattractive in a short sequence filmed from a train. He also required that all the actors in his period films had to wear their costumes for several weeks, daily, before filming so that they would look lived in.

Although his "samurai" films are considered the archetypal samurai films over the rest of the world, they were actually considered atypical in Japan. Most Japanese samurai films had been set in the 18th & 19th centuries, when a peaceful Japan was at the peak of its nationalism, with the largest number of bushido code-adhering samurai. Kurosawa's films typically feature individualistic "ronin" (masterless samurai) rather than true "samurai" and a majority are set in the far more chaotic feudal periods (16th-17th centuries) when the Japanese were engaged in civil war.

His favorite Japanese director was Kenji Mizoguchi.

He named the film that made him want to work in cinema as Abel Gance's film The Wheel (1923), particularly certain kinetic shots of trains.

He was a fan of the work of Sergei M. Eisenstein, who, like Kurosawa, edited his own films.

He believed his years as an assistant director were invaluable. In Japanese cinema at that time, assistant directors dabbled in virtually every aspect of film production and Kurosawa, among other things, learned all about editing, set-decorating, costume-design and working with actors. Almost all of the assistant directors in Kurosawa's day were aspiring to become full-fledged directors. He felt that it was a shame that, in more modern Japanese cinema and in America, the assistant director doesn't accrue as much experience and usually permanently stays as an assistant director throughout his career and that there would be a great number of excellent directors had they had his training.

Many of the characters in his period films were loosely based on historical figures.

He was made a Fellow of the British Film Institute in recognition of his outstanding contribution to film culture.

Is not related to Kiyoshi Kurosawa.

His mentor was 'Kajiro Yamamoto'.

Awarded the French Legion of Honor, 1984.

Awarded the Kyoto Prize, 1994.

Father of Hisao Kurosawa.

Father of Kazuko Kurosawa.

Interviewed in "World Directors in Dialogue" by Bert Cardullo (Scarecrow Press, 2011).

A theoretical interpretation of his work can be found in "Akira Kurosawa and Intertextual Cinema" by James Goodwin, published by Johns Hopkins in 1994.

Like his fellow World Cinema masters, Ingmar Bergman (who started in live theater) and Federico Fellini (who started in journalism) he came to cinema via circumvention after working as a painter.

His family, when traced back a few generations, were samurais from the Akita Prefecture. Kurosawa said later that his father, who was tall, with a commanding presence and worked as a fitness instructor, had a bearing he thought was samurai-like. Unlike his father, Kurosawa himself was never athletically inclined.

The Akira Kurosawa School of Film was launched in April 2015, offering an online Master of Fine Arts in Digital Filmmaking.

Keisuke Kinoshita, Akira Kurosawa, Kon Ichikawa and Masaki Kobayashi founded their own company, Yonki No Kai ('Club of The Four Knights'), in 1969 to assert an independent film making process and escape the studio system. They managed to produce only one movie, Kurosawa's Dodes'ka-den (1970).

He was a close friend of Honda Ishiro, the director of the early Godzilla films.

His last name is pronounced KU-RA-SA-WA.

Ingmar Bergman was a huge fan of his films.

He was a huge fan of American westerns; in particular those directed by John Ford.

His films were often criticized by Japanese film critics for being too influenced by American filmmakers.

His idol and primary influence was John Ford and Kurosawa was delighted and honored when they met and he learned that Ford was also a fan of his.

Kurosawa Akira's inspiration was noh theatre.