->''"It is wonderful to create."''
-->-- '''Akira Kurosawa'''

Akira Kurosawa (黒澤 明, March 23, 1910 September 6, 1998) was a famous Japanese director, mainly known in the West for his samurai films, such as ''Film/SevenSamurai,'' ''Film/{{Ran}},'' and ''Film/{{Yojimbo}}.'' Other notable films include: ''Film/{{Rashomon}},'' ''Film/TheHiddenFortress,'' ''Film/ThroneOfBlood,'' ''Film/{{Ikiru}},'' ''Film/DersuUzala,'' and ''Film/{{Sanjuro}}.''

Born on March 23, 1910, Kurosawa is widely considered one of the best and most important directors of the 20th century. ''Film/{{Rashomon}}'' became the first non-American and non-European film to become an international success and in film history, it is considered a watershed moment in the birth of what is considered world-cinema. Japan had a film industry that was already quite fecund and productive by TheFifties boasting many great films and film-makers from the silent to the sound era, and an active film culture. ''Rashomon'' wasn't the first Japanese film screened in the West (Teinosuke Kinugasa's ''A Page of Madness'' actually did circulate in the silent era in Europe, and Mikio Naruse's ''Wife! Be Like a Rose!'' also played in America) but it was the first to be critically acclaimed and popular, and within the wider culture, Kurosawa is still ''the'' Japanese film-maker.

He made films that were very influential on many American and European film directors. They include Creator/GeorgeLucas (the ''Franchise/StarWars'' series was heavily influenced by ''Film/TheHiddenFortress''), John Sturges (''Film/TheMagnificentSeven'' is a direct remake of ''Seven Samurai'') and Creator/SergioLeone (''Film/AFistfulOfDollars'' is a direct remake of ''Yojimbo''). His "Big Four" films (''Rashomon,'' ''Ikiru,'' ''Seven Samurai,'' and ''Ran'') are routinely included in lists of the best films of all time. Excepting ''Ikiru,'' all of his films from 1948's ''Film/DrunkenAngel'' to 1965's ''Film/RedBeard'' featured the actor Creator/ToshiroMifune. In 1965, the two had a falling out during the production of ''Red Beard'' and did not speak or see each other until a brief, tearful reunion in 1993. There were rumors that they [[WhatCouldHaveBeen would have collaborated on Kurosawa's next film]] after his upcoming project ''Film/AfterTheRain,'' but they [[AuthorExistenceFailure both died within a year of each other,]] with Kurosawa dying before ''After the Rain'' began filming. There was another chance in 1975, as the Soviet producers originally wanted Mifune in the title role of ''Film/DersuUzala,'' but it was prevented largely by Mifune's schedule. After 1965, there were only a few times where one spoke ill of the other, but otherwise they thought of each other -- and their films together -- with high regard.

The other actor most identified with Kurosawa is Takashi Shimura. Shimura appeared in Kurosawa's first film, 1943's ''Sanshiro Sugata'' and appeared in every one of Kurosawa's films from ''Sanshiro Sugata'' to 1965's ''Red Beard'' except for ''The Lower Depths.'' Unlike Mifune, however, Kurosawa and Shimura never had a falling out and remained friends until Shimura's death in 1982. Kurosawa wrote a small role for his friend in 1980's ''Film/{{Kagemusha}},'' which was cut from the Western release of the film (but has since been added back on Creator/TheCriterionCollection DVD).

Kurosawa's films are notable for being stunning visually, with beautiful backgrounds, sometimes verging on SceneryPorn. Try watching ''Ran'' and not falling in love with some of the shots, or considering it the most beautiful movie ever made.

He was a notorious PrimaDonnaDirector, to the point where he earned the nickname "Tenno" or "The Emperor". Kurosawa's personality and demeanor made him unpopular in the Japanese film industry, and his films were often divisive within Japan. Japanese critics often slammed Kurosawa for being "too Western" and they were not wrong. Kurosawa often drew inspiration from Creator/WilliamShakespeare and Creator/FyodorDostoevsky and he often admitted to being influenced by directors like Creator/FrankCapra and especially Creator/JohnFord (Kurosawa took his love for Ford to the extent of dressing like him on the set) and a number of his films adapted American pulp fiction (''Yojimbo'' was based on ''Literature/RedHarvest'', ''High and Low'' adapted from Ed [=McBain=]). Kurosawa also differed from earlier Japanese film-makers (like Creator/KenjiMizoguchi and Creator/YasujiroOzu) for being [[RatedMForManly quite macho]] and having very few prominent female roles compared to his predecessors and the general women-centric nature of Japanese cinema. Kurosawa also tended to write his own dialogues as he became more successful and rely less on screenwriters and Japanese critics often noted sardonically that his films improved in subtitles noting that to a Japanese audience, his movies often came off as sentimental, hokey, and as per Creator/YukioMishima having the maturity of a ten-year old.

Nonetheless Kurosawa's visual invention and creativity found public favour, and a number of his films had populist themes and subjects. The jidaigeki genre of HistoricalFiction had been seen as high art before Kurosawa, with strict attention to detail and setting, but Kurosawa was keen on introducing anachronistic elements, and contemporary sentiments into period movies, making them allegorical and fantastic. For instance ''Film/{{Rashomon}}'' musical score adapts Maurice Ravel's ''Bolero'', his Samurai films drew inspiration from American Western, and he introduced the concept of adapting Shakespeare to feudal Japan which greatly inspired Shakespeare scholars and producers. Kurosawa's films often pivoted on the conflict between the young and the old, while taking the side of the rebels, misfits and nonconformists, who voice criticism of the past. As Kurosawa grew older however, his vision darkened, culminating in ''Ran'' which is considered his bleakest and darkest film.

One of his ProductionPosse was Daisuke Kato. Kurosawa's daughter had married Kato's son.

[[WhatCouldHaveBeen One of Kurosawa's disappointments was that he never was able to make a]] ''Franchise/{{Godzilla}}'' film, as Toho turned down his requests to do it, fearing that Kurosawa's epic style would completely demolish the usual budget of the franchise.

In 1990, Kurosawa received an Oscar for Lifetime Achievement at the 1990 [[UsefulNotes/AcademyAward ceremony]]. Said award was presented to him by Creator/StevenSpielberg and Creator/GeorgeLucas and he accepted it in person. Kurosawa was the first Japanese, and first Asian, film-maker to receive the award. He passed away on September 6, 1998 at the age of 88.

!! Filmography:

* ''Uma'' (1941) - Kurosawa's final production as an assistant director, and he also co-wrote and co-edited the film. Sometimes included in Kurosawa's filmography because he took over most of the production from his mentor and friend Kajiro Yamamoto. Often thought by some to be lost, it actually still exists in a presentable form and was shown in UsefulNotes/TheUnitedStates in theaters in the 1980's. It's just awfully difficult to find.
* ''Sanshiro Sugata'' (1943)
* ''The Most Beautiful'' (1944)
* ''Sanshiro Sugata Part II'' (1945)
* ''The Men Who Tread on the Tiger's Tail'' (1945, not released until 1952) - This and the preceding two were propaganda movies that Kurosawa and Shimura were forced to write, direct and star in (respectively) during UsefulNotes/WorldWarII despite the fact that both were pacifists. They didn't get wide release in America until Creator/TheCriterionCollection box set ''[=AK100=]'' in 2009, mostly because after the war, Kurosawa saw them as an OldShame (although they all remained in his filmography unlike ''Those Who Make Tomorrow'').
* ''Film/NoRegretsForOurYouth'' (1946)
* ''Those Who Make Tomorrow'' (1946) - A co-direction with his mentor Kajiro Yamamoto, Kurosawa was essentially forced to co-direct the film and was so disgusted with it that he left it out of his filmography, which most Western film scholars and Wikipedia also do.
* ''One Wonderful Sunday'' (1947)
* ''Film/DrunkenAngel'' (1948)
* ''The Quiet Duel'' (1949)
* ''Film/StrayDog'' (1949)
* ''[[Film/{{Scandal1950}} Scandal]]''
* ''Film/{{Rashomon}}'' (1950)
* ''The Idiot'' (1951)
* ''Film/{{Ikiru}}'' (1952)
* ''Film/VendettaForASamurai'' (1952) - Written by Kurosawa, and directed by Kazuo Mori, this is an account of the true events of the duel at Kagiya Corner.
* ''Film/SevenSamurai'' (1954)
* ''Film/ILiveInFear'' (1955)
* ''Film/ThroneOfBlood'' (1957)
* ''Film/TheLowerDepths1957'' - An adaptation of Creator/MaximGorky 's [[Theatre/TheLowerDepths social satire]], transported to Edo-era Japan.
* ''Film/TheHiddenFortress'' (1958)
* ''Film/TheBadSleepWell'' (1960)
* ''Film/{{Yojimbo}}'' (1961)
* ''Film/{{Sanjuro}}'' (1962)
* ''Film/HighAndLow'' (1963)
* ''Film/RedBeard'' (1965)
* ''Film/{{Dodeskaden}}'' (1970)
* ''Literature/DersuUzala'' (1975) - Adapted from a Russian novel, this is Kurosawa's only non-Japanese language film.
* ''Film/{{Kagemusha}}'' (1980)
* ''Film/{{Ran}}'' (1985)
* ''Film/AkiraKurosawasDreams'' (1990)
* ''Rhapsody in August'' (1991)
* ''Madadayo'' (1993)
* ''Film/AfterTheRain'' - This film was written by Kurosawa and he planned on directing it, but his 1998 death put a stop to that. It was directed by his friend Takashi Koizumi, and many Kurosawa fans consider ''After the Rain'' to be as much a Kurosawa film as it is Koizumi's... Which may be accurate, considering that Kurosawa's pre-production methods were as meticulous as Hitchcock's or Kubrick's. Another one of his scripts that he planned on eventually directing, ''The Sea is Watching,'' was made by another director in 2002.
* ''Gendai oh Noh'' (planned for 2010, but official date TBA) - A documentary about Noh Theater that Kurosawa started while waiting for ''Ran'' to find funding. ''Gendai'' was promptly abandoned once ''Ran'' found funding, but Kurosawa always intended to finish it. In honor of the centennial of Kurosawa's birth, the film is being completed and will include Kurosawa's hour-plus of original footage.
* AuthorExistenceFailure: Averted as he had completed the screenplays for ''Film/AfterTheRain'' and ''The Sea is Watching'' prior to his death.
* CreatorBacklash: He was so disgusted with ''Those Who Make Tomorrow'' that he left it out of his filmography, which most Western film scholars and Wikipedia also do as he was forced to co-direct the film with mentor Kajiro Yamamoto.
* CreatorBreakdown: Fell into this in 1971 after the failure of ''Dodesukaden'' to the point that he actually attempted suicide.
** And again during the production of ''Ran'' when his wife Yoko Yaguchi passed away and the death of sound engineer Fumio Yanoguchi during postproduction.
* DespairEventHorizon: He went into such a depression after ''Dodes'ka-den'' failed at the box office that he tried to take his own life several times. It didn't help when one evening a drunken Kôji Mitsui called him a coward for not making another film; it's rumored that in his final moments Mitsui blamed himself for the suicide attempt.
* LargeAndInCharge: He stood over 6 feet tall, and towered over his actors.
* MagnumOpusDissonance: Kurosawa stated after its release, he considered ''Film/{{Ran}}'' to be his masterpiece. While the film is well-regarded, many critics and fans would consider ''Film/SevenSamurai'', ''Film/{{Yojimbo}}'', ''Film/TheHiddenFortress'', ''Film/HighAndLow'' and ''Film/{{Rashomon}}'' as his greatest work (mainly the former).
* OldShame: He considered the ''Sanshiro Sugata'' duology and ''The Men Who Tread on the Tiger's Tail'' as this due to being propaganda movies that he forced to write and direct during UsefulNotes/WorldWarII since he was a pacifist. This is the main reason why these had NoExportForYou in the US.
* PrimaDonnaDirector: He was a notorious perfectionist when making his films and would fly into a rage whenever someone got something wrong, such as when he yelled at Yoshio Inaba for forgetting his lines while making ''Seven Samurai''.
* ProductionPosse: His usual actors were Creator/ToshiroMifune, Takashi Shimura, Daisuke Kato, Minoru Chiaki, Creator/TatsuyaNakadai and Kamatari Fujiwara. Occasionally he had Bokuzen Hidari, Izusu Yamada, Seiji Miyaguchi and Isao Kimura, too.
* WhatCouldHaveBeen: Notable examples, such as:
** ''Film/RunawayTrain'', which he was going to direct in the late Sixties and would've been his first English film. However it didn't materialise until Creator/TheCannonGroup picked it up with Creator/AndreiKonchalovsky directing it instead, though his screenplay was still used for the film.
** He wanted to direct a ''Franchise/{{Godzilla}}'' film (he was close friends with Creator/IshiroHonda), but Creator/{{Toho}} turned him down as they were terrified by the thought of the budget that might be required to realize Kurosawa's vision.
** He was going to co-direct ''Film/ToraToraTora'' with Creator/DavidLean. Lean pulled out early in production. Kurosawa continued on for a while, until he was told that the Japanese section had been shortened to 90 minutes (the script Kurosawa had written was four hours long). Despite this, Kurosawa ''did'' begin production, but was replaced by Kinji Fukasaku and Toshio Masuda after three weeks. His experiences with ''Tora! Tora! Tora!'' and the failure of his next film ''Dodesukaden'' led to his CreatorBreakdown in 1971.
** ''Film/AfterTheRain'' and ''The Sea is Watching'' were planned to be his next projects after shooting ''Madadayo''. He managed to complete the screenplays for the films but after finishing the latter screenplay in 1995, he slipped and broke the base of his spine, which caused him to be paralysed and resulted in his health to deteriorate. His death three years later resulted in his close friend Takashi Koizumi directing the former and Kei Kumai directing the latter, three years after the release of the former.
** There were rumours that he and Creator/ToshiroMifune were going to reunite on a future project after they reconciled in 1993 at Ishiro Honda's funeral but their deaths within a year of each other ended this.
** His longtime wish was to die on the set while shooting a movie. Sadly, he fell short of this as he died ''just'' before filming ''Film/AfterTheRain'' began.