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Kurosawa and other directors


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    I’m interested in Kurosawa’s relationships with western directors. So, for example, does anyone know if Kurosawa and Sergio Leone ever met? I know there was litigation and that involved a degree of correspondence but am I right in thinking that they didn’t ever meet?

    Also, the directors that championed Kurosawa in the late 70s/80s (Lucas, Scorcese, Speilberg, Coppola) – would Kurosawa have considered these directors friends? Are there any examples of them socialising? Or would K’s lack of English have kept them all at one remove (so that the relationship was more master / pupil perhaps…?)?

    As ever, love to hear what you have to say…


    Vili Maunula

    An interesting question!

    I don’t know if Kurosawa ever met with Leone, but he certainly hang out with a number of contemporary directors.

    Kurosawa met with both Lucas and Coppola a number of times, not only because of them helping to produce Kagemusha, but apparently also for social reasons. There actually is a lovely account by Audie Bock about Kurosawa’s car trip to Coppola’s estate with Wim Wenders also with them. And in Waiting on the Weather, Teruyo Nogami writes that “Coppola often traveled to Japan with his family, and always made a point of having dinner with Kurosawa. They remained close for a long time.” (285)

    Kurosawa also certainly met Satyajit Ray and Andrei Tarkovsky, and Nogami in her book briefly recounts Kurosawa’s encounters with John Ford, Laurence Olivier, Jean Renoir, Jean-Luc Godard, John Milius, Werner Herzog, Martin Scorsese, William Friedkin, Sidney Lumet and others. Most of these were brief meetings, but at least Scorsese became more than just a colleague. He acted in Kurosawa’s Dreams, and Nogami writes that the two men “were like family”. (283)

    Dreams in turn was of course executive produced by Spielberg, with whom Kurosawa met at least once, as described in Galbraith (603-605). I’m not sure if their relationship stayed business only, though.

    Kurosawa of course also met Richard Fleischer, with whom he was supposed to share directing duties on Tora! Tora! Tora!. But according to Tasogawa, Kurosawa wasn’t much of a fan, either of the man or his works. He apparently called Fleischer “the micro guy” (in reference to his film The Fantastic Voyage, which Kurosawa disliked) and “the ketchup guy” (apparently, Fleischer used more ketchup with his meals than Kurosawa considered necessary).

    Kurosawa actually met surprisingly many directors, considering that he didn’t really speak foreign languages that much. He did have the help of interpreters, of course.

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