Kurosawa continues to inspire filmmakers even after his death: Priyadarshan

NEW DELHI: Renowned filmmaker Priyadarshan, who recently won the National award for the best film of 2007 for Kanchivaram, today said that famed Japanese filmmaker Akira Kurosawa had inspired thousands of filmmakers worldwide and continues to do so even after his death.

Inaugurating a two-day retrospective of Kurosawa’s films organised as part of the Delhi International Arts Festival (DIAF) in collaboration with the Directorate of Film Festivals and the Japanese Embassy, Priyadarshan said that the Hollywood film Vantage Pointmade barely two years earlier had been inspired by Roshomon, the 1950 feature film which was the opening film of the retrospective.

He himself had been inspired by Kurosawa’s style and this was his reason for paying a tribute at the opening of the retrospective, he added.

Later in an interaction, he said that such festivals like the DIAF were very essential to keep alive the cultural traditions of the country.

While refering to the popularity of Indian cinema in Japan, Japan Information Centre Director Kojiro Uchiyama said even the film Sholaywas inspired by Kurosawa.

Director of Film Festivals, S M Khan and DIAF Director Pratibha Prahlad were also present in the occasion. The other films being screened at the festival are Doomed, High and Low, Red Beardand Sanjuro at the Sirifort Auditorium on 3 and 4 October.

Best known in India for his films Seven Samurai (1954) and Roshomon(1950), Kurosawa was a filmmaker who was emulated by filmmakers all over the world.

The Magnificent Seven by Hollywood filmmaker John Sturges and starred Yul Brynner, Lee Marvin, Charles Bronson, and Robert Vaughn made several years later was a copy of Seven Samurai.

China Gate made by Rajkumar Santoshi some years earlier is also an adaptation of this theme as are many other films like Karan Arjun where villagers unite to fight villains.

Akira Kurosawa (23 March 1910 – 6 September 1998) was a director, producer, screenwriter and editor. In a career that spanned 50 years, Kurosawa directed 30 films. He is widely regarded as one of the most important and influential filmmakers in film history.

In 1989, he was awarded the Academy Award for Lifetime Achievement "for cinematic accomplishments that have inspired, delighted, enriched and entertained worldwide audiences and influenced filmmakers throughout the world."

He was hired and worked as an assistant director to Kajiro Yamamoto. After his directorial debut with Sanshiro Sugata in 1943, his next few films were made under the watchful eye of the wartime Japanese government and sometimes contained nationalistic themes. For instance, The Most Beautiful(1944) is a propaganda film about Japanese women working in a military optics factory. Judo Saga 2 (1945) portrays Japanese judo as superior to western (American) boxing.

His first post-war film No regrets for our Youth(1946), by contrast, is critical of the old Japanese regime and is about the wife of a left-wing dissident who is arrested for his political leanings. Kurosawa made several more films dealing with contemporary Japan, most notably Drunken Angel (1948) and Stray Dog (1949). However, it was Roshomon that led to him being known internationally and won him the Golden Lion at the Venice Film Festival.

Kurosawa had a distinctive cinematic technique, which he had developed by the 1950s. He liked using telephoto lenses for the way they flattened the frame. He believed that placing cameras farther away from his actors produced better performances as they would not be conscious of the camera. He also liked using multiple cameras which allowed him to shoot an action scene from different angles. As with the use of telephoto lenses, the multiple-camera technique also prevented Kurosawa‘s actors from "figuring out which one is shooting him" and [invariably turning] one-third to halfway in its direction."

Kurosawa‘s perfectionism showed in his approach to costumes: he felt that giving an actor a brand new costume made the character look less than authentic. Kurosawa did not believe that "finished" music went well with film. When choosing a musical piece to accompany his scenes, he usually had it stripped down to one element (e.g., trumpets only).

Red Beard (1965) was a drastic investment of time and money for Kurosawa (the production was such a strain to his customary hero – for 16 films – Toshiro Mifune, that he had a falling out with Kurosawa and would never again appear in one of his films ). Despite the film’s critical acclaim, Kurosawa spent the next five years trying to get a project off the ground. Dodes’ ka-den (1970) – Kurosawa’s first colour film and a daring stylistic reach for the artiste – had the unfortunate fate of being jeered at by most Japanese critics.

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