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AK Centenary Exhibition

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    I apologize if this has been mentioned elsewhere (I checked the site but couldn’t find anything about this), but by following the link on this site to the Akira Kurosawa Drawings website, I noticed something:

    It says that there is going to be an Akira Kurosawa Centenary Exhibition at the Tokyo Metropolitan Museum of Photography from September 4 to October 11. It will contain storyboards from Kagemusha, Ran, Dreams, Rhapsody in August, Madadayo and The Sea Watches.

    And from September 25 to October 8 they will be having repeated showings of The Quiet Duel, Rashomon, Ran, and Madadayo! (There is no mention whether or not these will include English subtitles.)

    Here’s the link to the Japanese flyer: http://www.kurosawa-drawings.com/page/21

    And here’s the link to the English page: http://www.kurosawa-drawings.com/page/27

    Like I said, I hope I’m not repeating something that has already been mentioned. In any event this sounds like a wonderful exhibition (with exciting possibilities of interesting items being sold in the museum gift shop!).


    Vili Maunula

    Thanks for the info, Chris! I wonder if it’s the same exhibition that has been touring the world, including Europe last year (or was it 2008?).



    This is extremely belated as it has now finished (as of October 11), but I wanted to give a quick review of the AK Centenary Exhibition. I had the immense pleasure of visiting this a few weeks back. (However, I did not attend any of the film screenings or talks.) The exhibition was located in the basement of the Tokyo Metropolitan Museum of Photography in Ebisu. I got there just as they opened on a Wednesday morning, so thankfully I avoided most the of crowds inherent in prominent Tokyo art exhibitions. In fact, I and two other people were the only ones there at the time. (It did start to fill up after about an hour or so.)

    From what I could gather this is identical to the 2008 French exhibition. (There was an opening message from the curator of the Museum of Fine Arts of the City of Paris.) I assume these were also in that French exhibition, but Martin Scorsese lent the art that Kurosawa gave him for Dreams. Together with this there was both a new message from Scorsese for this exhibition and an extended quote from Kurosawa on working with Scorsese. These were a delight to read (and see)!

    I’m not going to necessarily review the art itself. None of the pieces were ever made with the intention of exhibiting them, but a couple of them reached the status of true art in my opinion. One odd thing I noticed was in his picture of the ghostly soldiers exiting the tunnel in Dreams, a single strand of hair was stuck into the paint in the middle of the picture. It wasn’t just on the picture; it was dried into the paint itself. Could it be Kurosawa’s? It was funny to see.

    Near the end of the exhibition they had a small television playing repeatedly the interviews with Francis Ford Coppola and George Lucas produced for the Criterion DVDs. They were in their native English with Japanese subtitles, but the volume was so low you could barely hear it unless you sat right up next to the TV. Nothing new here, but it was a nice addition.

    I haven’t studied Dreams and its making in much detail yet, so I was unaware of the excised flying sequence. Looking at the pictures Kurosawa had made, it seems like it would have been ethereally beautiful had it been filmed. Also, the unfilmed A Wonderful Dream sequence was explained in a long passage from Kurosawa himself together with the pictures. This too sounds like it would have be magnificent.

    I haven’t seen The Sea is Watching, but looking at Kurosawa’s beautiful images I could deeply imagine this picture and found myself really quite sad that Kurosawa didn’t have a chance to film it himself. (However, if he had, then there would probably have been pictures for his next unmade project to which I would have felt the same sadness. I just want him to still be alive somehow making films, I guess.)

    This whole exhibition had one surprise: If any of you know anything about typical Japanese exhibitions, you know that English translations of the Japanese explanations are many times far and few (if they exist at all) and are usually of low quality at best. This exhibition, however, was a welcome surprise. Every last word of Japanese was translated into very good English. I think this was the first of the many exhibitions I have been to in Tokyo where I could understand everything about every picture. Perhaps knowing how internationally revered Kurosawa is they wanted to make this accessible to a wider audience (and there were a few “foreigners” there besides myself). Whatever the reason, I was extremely delighted.

    Finally, I’d like to say two words about the exhibition’s catalogue: Get it! Really, this is a wonderful keepsake. Not only is every picture represented largely and well-printed, but also every last word of English is reproduced inside. Nothing is missing, so flipping through the book is pretty much like walking through the exhibition. It can be purchase online through the Akira Kurosawa Drawings website (http://www.kurosawa-drawings.com/product/272) although I don’t know if you can actually order it internationally. It is well worth adding to your collection, I must say. (That is, if you don’t already have the expensive and hard to get Complete Drawings.)


    Vili Maunula

    Thanks for the review! Sounds like it was a nice exhibition. And that catalogue sounds like a worthwhile purchase indeed, and isn’t even too expensive. Unfortunately, kurosawa-drawings.com is not taking any international orders at the moment. There are, of course, services which can do the shopping for you for a little bit of extra cost.

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