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Home :: Archive :: 1998 :: September ::
Kurosawa Reflection
The Shakespeare Conference: SHK 9.0885  Wednesday, 23 September 1998.

From:           R. Thomas Simone <
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Date:           Wednesday, 23 Sep 1998 07:39:10 -0400 (EDT)
Subject:        Kurosawa Reflection

This is both a response to Peter Donaldson's recent assessment and
anecdote about Kurosawa, and my own brief tribute.

I would need to place Kurosawa a bit higher than Peter Donaldson did in
his last post.  While I have admired Ozu since I saw the first extensive
showing in this country of five of his films at Dartmouth College in
1965 and though I appreciate much of Mizoguchi's work, I continue to
find that Kurosawa created the more compelling achievement in film.
While members of this list will give most attention to the Shakespeare
related films CASTLE OF SPIDER WEB FOREST (aka THRONE OF BLOOD), THE BAD
SLEEP WELL, and RAN, the range of Kurosawa's work spans far beyond even
these fascinating films.

There are few reflections on human frailty and hope in film that are
equal to IKIRU.  The fortunes and purposes of war are, of course,
memorably shaped in THE SEVEN SAMURAI (and here I would recommend video
views to see either the Criterion Laserdisc or DVD version for a glimpse
of the cinematic beauty of this film).  The flawed IDIOT presents a
haunting version of Dostoevsky's novel.  DODESKADEN presents the poverty
and despair of post war Japan in moving terms.  The lyricism of DERSZU
UZALA is one of the finest imagings of physical nature in film.  And on
and on.

While it may be that in RAN and KUROSAWA'S DREAMS that we find a
somewhat self-conscious artistry, I think that can be forgiven in light
of an astounding range of work.  Along with Renoir, Bergman, Fellini,
Dreyer, Ray, Kurosawa was one of the masters of our time.

Perhaps I have a more 19th century view of art than is accepted in our
postmodern carnival.  But I consider myself most fortunate to have lived
in the era when Kurosawa flourished.

Best to all,
Tom Simone
University of Vermont
 

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