Nationality: Japanese. Born: Shoji Shimazaki in Hyogo prefecture, 12 March 1905. Education: Attended night courses in English at Kansai University, late 1920s. Family: Married Masako, 1937. Career: 1928—formed amateur theater group, Shichigatsu-za; then joined a commercial group, Kindai-za, 1930, and appeared on stage in Osaka and on tour; 1939—joined the Shinsen-za group; 1934—joined the Shinko Kinema studio, Kyoto: first important film role in Chuji uridasu , 1935; later worked for other studios, including Makino, Nikkatsu, Shochiku, and, from 1941, Toho; 1950–54—roles in Rashomon and Seven Samurai brought international attention; appeared on television from the mid-1960s. Died: Of emphysema in Tokyo, 11 February 1982.
Chuji uridasu (Itami); Tora-ko (Sasukita)
Umon torimonocho: Harebare gojusan-tsugi ; Naniwa ereji ( Osaka Elegy ) (Mizoguchi) (as the detective); Akanishi Kakita (Itami) (as Tsunomata); Shura yako: Edo no hanaosho ; Hasshu kyokakujin ; Maisen ; Churetsu nikudan sanyushi ; Hatsugaro-ondo ; Irezumi chohan (Kinugasa)
Seishun gonin otoko (Part I, II); Ryuko sokitai ; Katana o nuite ; Kisoji no tabigasa
Jigoku no mushi (Inagaki)
Myohoin Kanpachi (Tsuji); Shunju-ittoryu (Marune); Mumyoyumyo (Matsuda)
Genroku bushido ; Adauchi kokyogaku (Marune); Zoko Shimizuminato (Makino); Maboroshi-jo ; Uemon torimono-cho: Uemon Edo-sugata (as Abata no Keishiro)
Uchiiri zenya (Marune); Umi o wataru sairei (Inagaki); Edo saigo no hi (Inagaki); Miyamoto Musashi: Ichijo-ji no ketto (Inagaki)
Torii Kyozaemon (Uchida)
Sugata Sanshiro ( Sanshiro Sugata ) (Kurosawa) (as Hansuke Murai)
Ichiban utsukushiku ( The Most Beautiful ) (Kurosawa) (as Goro Ishida)
Tota no o o fumu otokotachi ( The Men Who Tread on the Tiger's Tail ) (Kurosawa) (as Kakaoka)
Waga seishun ni kui nashi ( No Regrets for Our Youth ) (Kurosawa) (as Dokuazami)
Ginrei no hate ( Snow Trail ) (Taniguchi)
Yoidore Tenshi ( Drunken Angel ) (Kurosawa) (as Dr. Sanada)
Shizukanaru ketto ( The Quiet Duel ) (Kurosawa) (as Kyonosuke Fujisaki); Nora-inu ( Stray Dog ) (Kurosawa) (as Chief Detective Sato)
Sukyandaru ( Shubun ; Scandal ) (Kurosawa) (as Hiruta); Rashomon (Kurosawa) (as the woodcutter)
Hakuchi ( The Idiot ) (Kurosawa) (as Ono); Mesu-inu (Kimura); Bakui ichidai (Kimura)
Ikiru ( To Live ; Doomed ) (Kurosawa) (as Kanji Watanabe); Ketto Kagiyanotsuji ; Muteki ; Bijo to yaju
Saikaku ichidai-onna ( The Life of Oharu ) (Mizoguchi); Shichinin no samurai ( The Seven Samurai ) (Kurosawa) (as Kambei); Gojira ( Godzilla, King of the Monsters ) (Honda) (as Dr. Yamane)
Otoko arite (Maruyama); Geisha Konatsu ; Hitori neru yo no Konatsu (Aoyagi); Ikimono no kiroku ( Record of a Living Being ; I Live in Fear ; What the Birds Knew ) (Kurosawa) (as Harada)
Ketto Ganryu-Jima ( Musashi and Kojiro ; Samurai Part III ) (Inagaki) (as official)
Kumonosujo ( Throne of Blood ) (Kurosawa) (as Noriyasu Odaguru); Ohtoro-jo no hanayome (Matsuda); Dotanba (Uchida)
Chushingura (Watanabe) (as Jubei Otake); Ten to sen ; Kakushi toride no san-akunin ( Hidden Fortress ) (Kurosawa) (as General Izumi Nagakura)
Kotan no kuchibue (Naruse); Shobushi ro sono musume (Shima); Sengoki gunto-den ( Saga of the Vagabonds ) (Sugie) (as Toki Saemon-no-jo)
Taiheiyo no arashi ( I Bombed Pearl Harbor ) (Matsubayashi) (as Tosaku); Warui yatsu hodo yoku nemuru ( The Bad Sleep Well ) (Kurosawa) (as Moriyama); Otoko tai otoko ( Man against Man ) (Taniguchi) (as Taniguchi)
Yojimbo ( The Bodyguard ) (Kurosawa) (as Tokuemon); Osaka-jo monogatari ( Daredevil in the Castle ) (Inagaki); Ai to honoho to ( Challenge to Live ) (Sugawa); Mosura ( Mothra ) (Honda)
Tsubaki Sanjuro ( Sanjuro ) (Kurosawa) (as Kurofuji); Chusingura (Inagaki); Futari no musuko ( Different Sons ) (Chiba); Yosei Gorath ( Gorath ) (Honda)
Tengoku to jigoku ( High and Low ) (Kurosawa) (as the director)
Kaidan ( Kwaidan ) (Kobayashi) (as priest); Samurai ( Samurai Assassin ) (Okamoto); Dai-tozoku ( Samurai Pirate ) (Taniguchi)
Akahige ( Red Beard ) (Kurosawa) (as Tokubei Izumiya); Sandai kaiju chikyu saidai no kessen ( Ghidrah ; The Three Headed Monster ) (Honda)
Furankenshutain tai Baragon ( Frankenstein Conquers the World ) (Honda); Bankokku no yuro ( Night in Bangkok ) (Chiba)
Nippon no ichiban nagai hi ( The Emperor and a General ) (Okamoto) (as information clerk)
Kurobe no taiyo (Kumai); Zatoichi hatashi-jo (Yasuda); Gion matsuri ( The Day the Sun Rose ) (Yamanuchi) (as Tsuneemon)
Furin-kazan ( Samurai Banners ) (Inagaki); Showa zankyoden: Karajishi jingi ; Zoku otoko wa tsuraiyo (Yamada) (as the father)
Otokowa tsuraiyo: Torajiro koiuta (Yamada)
Zatoichi's Conspiracy (Yasuda) (as Sakuebi)
Ranru, no hata (Yoshimura); Shinkansen diabakuha (Sato)
Zoku ningen kakumei (Masuda); Ninjutsu Sarutobi Sasuke
Ogin Sama ( Love and Faith of Ogin ) (Kamai) (as Sen Rikyu)
Obituary, in Image et Son , April 1982.
Obituary, in Films & Filming , May 1982.
The Annual Obituary 1982 , New York, 1983.
* * *
Takashi Shimura began his career playing villains or fools in many prewar films. His first major performance in Akira Kurosawa's Sugata Sanshiro began his ascendancy as one of Japan's most skillful and distinctive actors. Although he worked in numerous genres throughout his career, he is most often associated with Kurosawa's films, becoming an indispensible partner with him for 30 years.
Shimura's first starring role was as the alcoholic ghetto doctor of Drunken Angel . He attempts to save the life of a reckless gangster, played by Toshiro Mifune, who suffers from tuberculosis. Their performances, showing strength beneath human frailty, depicted opposing attitudes towards the confusion of optimism and despair in post-war Japan. Shamiru continued to play characters with paternal relationships to the younger Mifune: in The Quiet Duel as a doctor who encourages his son to follow his profession; in Stray Dog as an older detective paired with a rookie; and in Seven Samurai as the leader of a group of samurai which includes Mifune.
Two of Shimura's most impressive roles were as a villainous lawyer who awakens to the meaning of justice in Scandal and as a middle-aged bureaucrat in Ikiru . Learning he has terminal cancer, Shimura's character wishes to redeem his egocentric life by building a children's park. The dramatic change of this ordinary businessman as he wavers between hope and disillusionment became Shimura's screen monument.
Comment about this article, ask questions, or add new information about this topic: