My top 5 directors (Starting from No.1) – Akira Kurosawa

My Favorite director

Every week for the next 5 weeks I will make a list of my favorite movie directors. Within this list I will also include specific scenes form their movies that I think showcased their style and genius. Please enjoy, let me know what you think of my list and what is your favorite movie from these directors.

1) Akira Kurosawa

In simple terms Akira Kurosawa is to me what Jordan is to inspiring basketball players. What Lionel Messi or Ronaldo is to football lovers and so forth. In simple terms he is the true essence of cinema. Ironically back in 1990 when he was awarded the Honorary life time achievement Oscar, he stated ‘I still do not fully understand the true essence of cinema’. Later in his acclaimed biography he said ‘In my movies there are perhaps 3 to 4 minutes of true cinema.

That was a man speaking his heart on the love of cinema, he refused to believe he had perfected the art like no other has or ever will. Akira Kurosawa’s movies are not just a great piece of cinema but art in its purest form.

Everything in his movies speak to the heart. From his ability to bring out the best from his cast and his consistency in making at least 10 to 12 masterpieces. A feat unmatched by any director with the exception of possibly the great John Ford. Who Akira Kurosawa so deeply admired. When I first watched my Akira Kurosawa movie I was in awe. Despite watching it 20 years late it triggered this feeling within me, that made me question my own life.

I was 24 going through a rough patch finishing law school and not having a job, or at least working horrible jobs. I was a lost cause no idea what to do or where to go. Until I watched Ran. It moved me, almost had me in tears. It was as if my inner artistic inhibitions where kept locked and Ran helped me blossom. I decided to dedicate every ounce of my strength in understanding cinema. Soon after I picked up photography as a hobby.

On set...Akira visioning the epic final battle.
On set…Akira visioning the epic final battle.

I had no idea on how movies were directed, I had never attended film school or had any general knowledge on the art. I started from the bottom reading Film books, reading books on all my favorite directors. I then started to write my first screenplay In between rainbow. The story was mainly about the depths of human nature and how far people are willing to go to reach a certain status. However, back to the point. What I found so fascinating about Akira’s work was the use of camera. The still shots of true artistry. The use of nature to build tension such as blowing leaves rumbling clouds. Nothing felt artificial. Possibly the pioneer in screen fades a technique used by almost every director later in the 60s.

After watching his whole catalogue, I came to realise his profound influence on the west and how without the man’s genius there could possibly not have been some of my favorite movies.

I could go on for days about Mr. Kurosawa but one thing is certain that without him I would have remained a lost cause. A wanderer. He was as much of a father figure in my life in a weird way, since his pictures spoke to me in ways no one has ever done and for that I thank him. Perhaps we could one day meet who knows.

Favorite scene from an Akira Kurosawa movie:

This is a particularly difficult, since every Kurosawa movie has its own magical moments. Touch of artistry beyond comprehension but if I had to choose one

it would probably be in Sanjuro:

 

Sanjuro (1962)

Scene – the final duel:

– A scene does not get any more poetic than this. True artistry was being shown here by Akira. Not only because the movie itself was excellent to say the least

but oh my god that last scene. The 15 to 20 second silence before the chaotic conclusion. Is in my opinion the true essence of cinema as Akira Kurosawa intended.

The whole movie was balanced well a rather serious social study told with a comic touch and an ending so intense that writing this in 2016 I still think is untouched.

Some may say the final duel in the Good the Bad and the Ugly is better. To reiterate on that – that ending is the exact imitation of Sanjuro. Only difference being that the latter is a Western with an added character in the final duel.

The Sergio Leone Spaghetti trilogy had been the western take on Akira Kurosawa’s movies “the man with no name”. I think that is all that needs to be said.

Visit this link for the finale:

 

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