Akira Kurosawa is one of the most influential, as well as celebrated directors in all of cinematic history, especially when it comes to Japanese filmmaking. He was heavily involved in nearly ever aspect of his films’ production process, from co-writing scripts to editing (many considered editing the director’s greatest strength as a filmmaker). In this 90-minute documentary, A Message from Akira Kurosawa: For Beautiful Movies (2000), Kurosawa shares his unique insight in ten interviews that were conducted towards the end of his life, discussing screenwriting, shooting, cinematography, directing, and his “quest for making the perfect — ‘beautiful’ movie,” — definitely a masterclass in filmmaking from a filmmaking master.
For those who may not be familiar with the work of Akira Kurosawa, here’s a little bit of history. His career spanned over nearly 60 years beginning in 1943 with his action film Sanshiro Sugata. He’s most known for his samurai epics, such as Rashomon, Seven Samurai, Hidden Fortress (which inspired Star Wars), Yojimbo/Sanjuro, Kagemusha, and Ran, in which he often cast Toshiro Mifune (who collaborated with Kurosawa on 16 of his 30 films).
Kurosawa’s reach spanned over international borders, touching not only moviegoers, but filmmakers as well. Some of the greatest filmmakers in history, including Ingmar Bergman, Federico Fellini, Robert Altman, Francis Ford Coppola, Steven Spielberg, and Martin Scorsese have made their admiration of the director abundantly clear. Fellini once called him “the greatest living example of all that an author of the cinema should be.”
Thanks to Cinephilia and Beyond for sharing the documentary. Check it out below (here’s a breakdown of each chapter to help you navigate.)
Chapter 1: The seed of a film Chapter 2: Screenplays Chapter 3: Storyboards Chapter 4: Filming Chapter 5: Lighting Chapter 6: Production design Chapter 7: Costumes Chapter 8: Editing Chapter 9: Music Chapter 10: Directing
How has Akira Kurosawa inspired your own work? What lessons did the documentary teach you? Let us know in the comments below.