Director Akira Kurosawa (1910-1998)

Rashomon Seven Samurai Ran

The Most Beautiful (1944)
Sanshiro Sugata, Part Two (1945)
The Men Who Tread on the Tiger's Tail (1945)
No Regrets for Our Youth (1946)
One Wonderful Sunday (1947)
Drunken Angel (1948)
The Quiet Duel (1949)
Stray Dog (1949)
Scandal (1950)
Rashomon (1950)
The Idiot (1951)
Ikiru (1952)
Seven Samurai (1954)
I Live in Fear (1955)
Throne of Blood (1957)
The Lower Depths (1957)
The Hidden Fortress (1958)
The Bad Sleep Well (1960)
Yojimbo (1961)
Sanjuro (1962)
High and Low (1963)
Red Beard (1965)
Dodes'ka-den (1970)
Dersu Uzala (1975)
Kagemusha (1980)
Ran (1985)
Dreams (1990)
Rhapsody in August (1991)
Madadayo (1993)

(Films outside the jidai-geki genre are listed in gray)

Akira Kurosawa Though it's practically a cliche to say so, Akira Kurosawa is the master of Japanese cinema. His influence has been felt far and wide throughout the world of motion pictures, probably even more so among Western filmmakers than within his own country. While he's best renowned for his landmark jidai-geki masterpieces, Kurosawa also spent much of his career making contemporary gendai-geki. His resume encompasses a stunning breadth of productions ranging from crime thrillers and epic adaptations of Western literature to quiet human struggles with personal failures and mortality.

Between Seven Samurai and Yojimbo, Kurosawa twice reinvented the chambara action genre and spawned innumerable imitations each time. He brought a modern Western sensibility to historical Eastern drama, influenced by the cowboy epics of John Ford, and proved that jidai-geki films could incorporate action and adventure without compromising their artistic and cultural value. Kurosawa dared to humanize his samurai characters, showing the conflict between their honorable bushido code and the corrupt lords they were forced to serve, and often making them vulnerable to their own selfish and immoral impulses.

Because Kurosawa introduced Western elements into the previously "pure" world of Japanese cinema, his peers and critics in his own country often held him in contempt, even as he began to draw acclaim worldwide. Kurosawa's detractors were dismayed by his popularity abroad, unprecedented for a Japanese filmmaker, which they took as evidence that his works were debased and overly Americanized. Kurosawa resented this accusation that dogged him throughout his career, and I personally find numerous other Japanese directors to have more of a Hollywood style than Kurosawa ever showed. But it's probably best just to consider him a genius who belongs to the world more than to any one country.

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The Jidai-Geki Knights
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