Akira Kurosawa


23 Mar 1910


Tokyo, Japan


After training as a painter (he storyboards his films as full-scale paintings), Kurosawa entered the film industry in 1936 as an assistant director, eventually making his directorial debut with Sanshiro Sugata (1943). Within a few years, Kurosawa had achieved sufficient stature to allow him greater creative freedom. Drunken Angel (1948)--"Drunken Angel"--was the first film he made without extensive studio interference, and marked his first collaboration with Toshirô Mifune. In the coming decades, the two would make 16 movies together, and Mifune became as closely associated with Kurosawa's films as was John Wayne with the films of Kurosawa's idol, John Ford. After working in a wide range of genres, Kurosawa made his international breakthrough film Rashomon (1950) in 1950. It won the top prize at the Venice Film Festival, and first revealed the richness of Japanese cinema to the West. The next few years saw the low-key, touching Ikiru (1952) (Living), the epic Seven Samurai (1954), the barbaric, riveting Shakespeare adaptation Throne of Blood (1957), and a fun pair of samurai comedies Yojimbo (1961) and Sanjuro (1962). After a lean period in the late 1960s and early 1970s, though, Kurosawa attempted suicide. He survived, and made a small, personal, low-budget picture with Dodes'ka-den (1970), a larger-scale Russian co-production Dersu Uzala (1975) and, with the help of admirers Francis Ford Coppola and George Lucas, the samurai tale Kagemusha (1980), which Kurosawa described as a dry run for Ran (1985), an epic adaptation of Shakespeare's "King Lear." He continued to work into his eighties with the more personal Akira Kurosawa's Dreams (1990), Rhapsody in August (1991) and Madadayo (1993). Kurosawa's films have always been more popular in the West than in his native Japan, where critics have viewed his adaptations of Western genres and authors (William Shakespeare, Fyodor Dostoevsky, Maxim Gorky and Evan Hunter) with suspicion - but he's revered by American and European film-makers, who remade Rashomon (1950) as The Outrage (1964), Seven Samurai (1954), as The Magnificent Seven (1960), Yojimbo (1961), as A Fistful of Dollars (1964) and The Hidden Fortress (1958), as Star Wars: Episode IV - A New Hope (1977).

Actor ( 10 credits )

Fûshi kaden (2007) Himself
Cinema mil (2005)  Himself (1 episode, 2005)
Hodo Station (2003)  Himself (archive footage) (1 episode, 2013)
Akira Kurosawa: It Is Wonderful to Create (2002)  Himself
A.K. (1985) Himself
Cinema 3 (1984)  Himself (archive footage) (1 episode, 2010)
Étoiles et toiles (1982)  Himself (1 episode, 1985)
The South Bank Show (1978)  Himself (1 episode, 1980)
75 Years of Cinema Museum (1972) Himself
Great Performances (1971)  Himself (1 episode, 2000)

Producer ( 11 credits )

Kagemusha (1980) executive producer / producer
Dodes'ka-den (1970) planner / producer
Sanshiro Sugata (1965) producer
High and Low (1963) associate producer
Yojimbo (1961) producer
The Bad Sleep Well (1960) producer
The Hidden Fortress (1958) producer
The Lower Depths (1957) producer
Throne of Blood (1957) producer
Stray Dog (1949) associate producer
Haru no tawamure (1949) associate producer

Writer ( 50 credits )

The Magnificent Seven (2016) (based on the screenplay by) &
The Outrage (2011) (based on screenplay by)
Hidden Fortress: The Last Princess (2008) (original screenplay) &
Tsubaki Sanjûrô (2007) (screenplay)
Samurai 7 (2004) (26 episodes, 2004)
The Sea Is Watching (2002)
Dora-heita (2000) (screenplay) &
After the Rain (1999) (screenplay)
Last Man Standing (1996) (story)
Maadadayo (1993) (writer)
Dreams (1990) (written by)
Runaway Train (1985)
Ran (1985) (screenplay) and
Dersu Uzala (1975) (screenplay) (as Akira Kurosava) &
Nora inu (1973) (1949 screenplay)
Tora! Tora! Tora! (1970)
Dodes'ka-den (1970) (screenplay) &
The Last Day of Hsianyang (1968) (screenplay)
Sanshiro Sugata (1965) (1943 screenplay "Sugata Sanshiro" and 1945 screenplay
Red Beard (1965) (screenplay)
The Outrage (1964)
Jakoman to Tetsu (1964) (and earlier screenplay)
High and Low (1963) (screenplay)
Sanjuro (1962) (screenplay)
Fencing Master (1962) (1950 screenplay Tateshi danpei)
Yojimbo (1961)
The Bad Sleep Well (1960) (written by) &
The Magnificent Seven (1960)
The Saga of the Vagabonds (1959) (writer)
Play of the Week (1959) (1 episode, 1960)
The Hidden Fortress (1958) (written by)
Throne of Blood (1957) (screenplay)
Nichiro sensô shôri no hishi: Tekichû ôdan sanbyaku-ri (1957) (screenplay)
I Live in Fear (1955) (story)
Asunaro monogatari (1955) (screenplay)
Seven Samurai (1954) (screenplay) &
My Wonderful Yellow Car (1953) (writer)
Ikiru (1952) (written by) &
Rashomon (1950)
The Quiet Duel (1949) (writer)
Stray Dog (1949) (writer)
Jakoman and Tetsu (1949) (writer)
Jigoku no kifujin (1949) (writer)
Drunken Angel (1948)
The Portrait (1948) (writer)
Four Love Stories (1947) (segment "Hatsukoi")
Waga seishun ni kuinashi (1946)
Appare Isshin Tasuke (1945) (screenplay)
Sanshiro Sugata (1943) (writer)
Uma (1941) (uncredited)

Director ( 32 credits )

Maadadayo (1993)
Rhapsody in August (1991)
Dreams (1990)
Ran (1985)
Kagemusha (1980)
Dersu Uzala (1975) (as Akira Kurosava)
Dodes'ka-den (1970)
Red Beard (1965)
High and Low (1963)
Sanjuro (1962)
Yojimbo (1961)
The Bad Sleep Well (1960)
The Hidden Fortress (1958)
The Lower Depths (1957)
Throne of Blood (1957)
I Live in Fear (1955)
Seven Samurai (1954)
Ikiru (1952)
The Idiot (1951)
Scandal (1950)
Rashomon (1950)
The Quiet Duel (1949)
Stray Dog (1949)
Drunken Angel (1948)
One Wonderful Sunday (1947)
Waga seishun ni kuinashi (1946)
Asu o tsukuru hitobito (1946)
The Men Who Tread on the Tiger's Tail (1945)
Zoku Sugata Sanshirô (1945)
Ichiban utsukushiku (1944)
Sanshiro Sugata (1943)
Uma (1941) (some scenes) (uncredited)