Akira Kurosawa: A Viewer’s Guide

Eric San Juan. Rowman & Littlefield, $36 (264p) ISBN 978-1-5381-1089-8
Akira Kurosawa’s films are examined in detail in this enjoyable overview of the renowned director’s career from San Juan (Hitchcock’s Villains). Focusing on Kurosawa’s themes rather than his techniques, San Juan readily succeeds in his goal of creating an accessible appreciation of Kurosawa’s work. Each film receives its own entry, beginning with Kurosawa’s 1943 directorial debut, Sanshiro Sugata, about a reckless young man intent on becoming a judo master, through to Kurosawa’s 1993 swan song, Madadayo, about an elderly man not yet ready to die. Biographical snippets threaded into the entries trace Kurosawa’s working life, from his start in WWII-era Japan to his continuing career in devastated postwar Japan to his rise to fame in and outside Japan in the 1950s, ending with his late ’60s fall from grace and early ’80s comeback. Many of the tales from Kurosawa’s life, particularly regarding his relationships with his actors—including his master-pupil relationship with star Toshiro Mifune and long marriage to actress Yoko Yaguchi—are so intriguing that readers will wish this were a full biography. San Juan takes care to note Kurosawa’s influences upon other directors, including George Lucas, Sam Peckinpah, and Martin Scorsese, observing, for example, how the plot of Lucas’s 1977 film Star Wars echoes Kurosawa’s The Hidden Fortress. This guide to a master filmmaker’s work has appeal for cinephiles and casual movie viewers alike. (Dec.)
Reviewed on: 11/12/2018
Release date: 12/01/2018
Genre: Nonfiction
Portable Document Format (PDF) - 260 pages - 978-1-5381-1090-4
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