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Kurosawa on XBox 360

Microsoft’s new gaming console XBox 360 apparently comes with an online downloads store, one part of which is the so-called XBox Live Video service that allows users to rent digital downloads of TV shows and movies.

XBox Live Video was launched just yesterday, and initially features 48 movies. Among them is Akira Kurosawa’s Dreams, which is in some ways interesting considering that it is fairly different from the rest of the movies available, a full list of which you can see here.

I don’t know much about XBox or modern consoles in general, as my gaming days are more or less limited to Commodore 64. Therefore, I have no idea what the quality of these downloads is, and all I know is that the prices are between $3 and $6 per rent, depending on the age of the film and whether you are renting a high definition or regular movie.

However, considering that so far more than six million XBox 360 units have been sold according to Wikipedia, and that the XBox Live service has more than four million subscribers, Dreams now certainly has the potential of reaching a whole new generation of audiences. This is especially true considering that only so few movies are initially available.

Yet, one is of course tempted to ask whether this is going to actually create too many new Kurosawa enthusiasts. I would imagine that something like Yojimbo or Sanjuro would have made an excellent first introduction for the XBox generation, while Dreams may not really be something that the gamers are looking for. Of course, in the end the choice of Dreams is most probably based on distribution rights, and little else.

It remains to be seen whether Akira Kurosawa News and Information is shortly taken over by XBox users.





I have a 360 and right now downloading is insanely slow, so I cant comment on the quality yet, I dont think this service will become very popular. The gamers are a clever bunch, understanding paying for once free TV shows doest make much since and with the ease of finding any movie and TV show on the internet for free, cant see a young kid spending their money on such items

I would of never thought a Kurosawa film would be on there, especially as one of the very first, like to know the story behind that one.

I good entry film in my opinion would be “Ran”. I would be nice to see this spawn new Kurosawa fans but those who find “Dreams”, interesting might be disappointed in any other Kurosawa films, as it resembles very little to his other longer, slower paced films. However a spark of interest is all it really takes.

I have noticed young would be future film makers, taking note of Kurosawa, understanding there is alot he can teach. I really think Kurosawa fans will continue and with the aid of Criterion releases, there should be no shortage.


Vili Maunula

So, did the download ever finish? What sort of file sizes are we talking about?

I’m actually not so sure if Ran would make a good introduction to Kurosawa for the younger generation — it tends to divide people quite a lot. It seems to me that you either absolutely love it, or then you hate it to your guts.

But Criterion has indeed done a lot of good to bring Kurosawa to the next-generation cinemaphiles. I don’t actually have many Criterion releases in my own shelf, as they are pretty difficult to get hold of where I live, but I am planning to buy them one day.

Unless, of course, our visitor numbers shoot up and will allow me to ask Criterion for “review copies”. 😉 I’m not expecting that to happen anytime soon, though…

Actually, in case you are interested, we are currently getting around 100 unique visitors per day, and that number has been steadily rising in the past couple of months. Basically, it has doubled since August.

I suppose it has something to do with the fact that the website has also been rising in Google’s search rankings. AKNI is now somewhere between 25th and 35th when you search for “Akira Kurosawa”.

Still quite a bit to go until it reaches the top 10, of course.



Movie sizes are large 700megs to over 2 gigs depending on if its SD or HD.
The download came though and nothing I will ever do again, simply not worth it, quality is acceptable but its no mistaking it for a DVD and a good DVD player.

Too bad Criterions are hard for you to get, I buy a lot of DVDs and always look forward, when I buy and open a Criterion, it always feels special.

Its funny to me, how you say Ran wouldnt be a good starter film, perhaps your right. I always suggested Kagemusha and Ran before any older film, to me they offer more common epic themes, that attract the young Star Wars and Lord of the Rings fans.
To me its the fans of the epic style movies that would later find great interest in other AK films.

My first Kurosawa, I believe was Stray Dog, not a ideal starter film but it all it took for me, as now I have nearly every DVD region 1 release and a handful of other region releases


Vili Maunula

I have always found it tricky to recommend a Kurosawa film for someone who hasn’t seen one before. I wouldn’t really go with any of the colour films as a first introduction, yet many people seem to have problems watching black and white movies for some strange reason.

I usually try something like Yojimbo, Sanjuro or Stray Dog (which I personally think is a quite a good intro). Rashomon, Ran and Seven Samurai are of course all working choices as well, if you know that the person is ready to sit through them. Ikiru is also a marginal case.

Sometimes I actually give Dreams, but that is only when I know that the person watching it is into that sort of cinema.

A lot of people also seem to love Hidden Fortress, which I personally don’t find that interesting. (Although I haven’t seen it in ages.) But I give it as an option.


Vili Maunula

Here’s a related BBC News article on Xbox Live’s recent problems with the service: Problems hit Xbox video service

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