See index for CTFT sketch: Born March 23, 1910, in Tokyo Japan; died of a stroke, September 6, 1998, in Tokyo, Japan. Director, screenwriter, and author. Kurosawa was revered for his films that combined traditional Japanesefolklore with Western film technology like Panavision and Dolby sound. Kurosawa is credited with bringing Japanese films to the world's attention and at the time of his death was considered among the best directors of all time. Born in Tokyo to a large family, Kurosawa originally wanted to be a painter andstudied at the Tokyo Academy of Fine Arts. Not finding success as a painter,he answered an ad for Tokyo's P.C.L. Studios, which was searching for six mento become apprentice assistant directors. Kurosawa was accepted into the program after an interview with Kajiro Yamamoto, Japan's renowned director, andpresenting an essay he had written saying that films could always be better than they had been. Yamamoto insisted Kurosawa learn all aspects of filming, including screenwriting, and after seven years, in 1943, he was allowed to direct his first film, Sanshiro Sugata(Judo Saga). The film was successful and Kurosawa began work on his next picture, 1944's The Most Beautiful. It was while working on that film that Kurosawa met his future wife, YokoYaguchi, who then retired from acting to be Kurosawa's companion until her death in 1985. One of Kurosawa's best-known films, and the first to win international acclaim, was 1950's Rashomon, which won the 1951 Oscar for best foreign film and the best picture award at the Venice International Film Festival. The film, about an attack on a nobleman and his wife in a forest in medieval Japan, tells the story from the viewpoints of the attacker, the woman, the murdered nobleman and a woodcutter who was in the forest. Each viewpoint is depicted plausibly, making truth the theme of the film in that each person believes him or herself to be telling the truth. The 1950s and 1960s wereprolific times for Kurosawa, who made about fifteen films during that period.His works frequently were based on the writing of William Shakespeare, Feodor Dostoevski and the American author Ed McBain, and he cited directors John Ford and John Huston as role models. In 1952 his film Ikiru(To Live!) was released. Considered to be one of Kurosawa's best films, it told the storyof a Japanese bureaucrat who learns to appreciate life shortly before he dies of cancer. Another acclaimed film, Seven Samurai, soon followed. Samurai tells the story of seven out-of-work samurai warriors who are hired by a group of peasants to defend their village from bandits. The samurai want to live by the warrior ideology which, incidentally, Kurosawa had satirized in his 1945 film They Who Step on the Tiger's Tail. Seven Samurai was remade by United Artists as a western and released in America as The Magnificent Seven. Kurosawa received his second Silver Lion Award from the Venice Film Festival for Samurai. The films Kurosawa made during the late 1960s were assailed by critics and led him to slash his wrists ina 1971 suicide attempt. His critical failures and bad behavior on movie sets,where he often threw tantrums, resulted in difficulty finding financial backing for his subsequent films. He turned to outsiders for funding and finallyreturned to films in 1976 with Dersu Uzula, which was financed by Russians and filmed in Siberia. The picture resulted in Kurosawa's second AcademyAward, as well as Italy's Donatello Prize and the Moscow Film Festival FirstPrize. In 1985 Kurosawa's film Ran startled viewers with its Japaneseretelling of King Lear and its realistic battle scenes. It was a critical and commercial success and returned Kurosawa to the forefront of filmmaking. Hewas nominated for a best director Oscar for Ran and also received a special trophy for achievement at the Cannes Film Festival. In 1989 Kurosawa received his third Academy Award, an honorary Oscar for lifetime achievement.His most recent films include Akira Kurosawa's Dreams and Rhapsodyin August, which starred Richard Gere. In addition to his numerous filmsand screenplays, Kurosawa also wrote the book Something Like an Autobiography in 1982.
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