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Kurosawa and animals

Now, this may go somewhat beyond our usual coverage, but yesterday I found this rather interesting blog entry on Rose’s Crafty McGee blog, which is mainly about arts, crafts and home-making. In it, Rose shows a lovely stuffed crow that she made as an homage to Kurosawa. She writes:

I made my Akira a crow – since crows are sharp-eyed, curious, intelligent and mysterious. All words I would use to describe Kurosawa himself.

For some reason, I couldn’t get this out of my mind. Was Kurosawa really a crow?

Stuart Galbraith IV, in his book The Emperor and the Wolf associates Toshiro Mifune with a wolf, which I think is quite fitting (and makes me also think about the 1992 film Shadow of the Wolf, one of Mifune’s last). But was Kurosawa himself a crow, or some other animal?

Of course, by now all of you are probably thinking of Van Gogh’s painting “Wheat Field with Crows” (a detail of which is picture above), which Kurosawa made use in Dreams. Maybe he felt some association with crows? Or just with the painting?

I also started to think about animals in general in Kurosawa’s movies. I think one of the most powerful images in his whole oeuvre is the opening shot to Stray Dog — that panting dog in the hot summer sun. Can you think of any other animals in Kurosawa’s films that are there not only for historical or scene setting reasons?




I never got to feeling Kurosawa used to crows to give symbolic meaning to himself, however he does mention in “something like a autobiography” within some sense, that you would learn more about him in a film of his ,rather then his book.

the dog in stray dog is the only time I can recall the use of a animal for this nature,
however I did feel in Kagemusha, the horses during the battle that were killed or fighting off death and struggling to get back up were use to help demonstrate the wastefulness of the war, as clearly the horses had no reason to be killed (ignoring the fact that it would be common practice to kill the horse as a way to reduce the effectiveness of the attack leaving the man on foot) The meaningless death of the horses help shows the complete waste of the soldiers as they only died because the new leader had something to prove.
It could be said the horses were just part of the setting but there are alot of scenes that focus on the dieing horses only


Vili Maunula

Yes, I think you are right about the horses. They do have their own role to play in that scene in Kagemusha.

I was trying to remember… is there a caged bird in No Regrets for Our Youth? Or am I only imagining one? It’s been ages since I saw that film, and I think I have only watched it once as I for some reason didn’t quite like it that much, and haven’t got around to trying again. If there was a caged bird, though, I would imagine it to be a symbolic reference to the main character.

I suppose I need to watch the film at some point.



About 40 minutes into an early film, “One Wonderful Sunday,” there is a 94-second sequence of animals seen by a young couple on their visit to the zoo. The scene consists of eight shots (a mother pig, a pair of swans, three bear cubs, a woolly goat, two giraffes, a monkey, a pelican, and a camel), with voice-overs from the young couple reflecting on and contrasting their personal situation with that of each of the animals. The swan couple must be happy, the heroine says, not having to worry about inflation. Her companion thinks the monkey seems to be criticizing human beings as he looks out at them from inside his cage. The pelican looks so sad, and so does the camel – but are not we the sad ones? It is a beautiful and deeply affecting passage – along with the scene of the starving homeless boy that occurs just before it, it is in my view the finest and most emotionally real scene in the film. Thank you for the opportunity to share this thought!


Vili Maunula

How didn’t I remember this sequence, considering that the film is one of my personal favourites!? Thanks for sharing this with us, Aurelle!

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