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Kurosawa on the cover of Sight & Sound

Sight and Sound July 2010The British Film Institute’s July 2010 issue of film magazine Sight & Sound has Kurosawa on the cover, and plenty of Kurosawa related content inside of those covers.

A section called “Kurosawa on Kurosawa”, which is also available online, contains extracts from a 1964 interview conducted by Donald Richie, as well as two later interviews where Kurosawa talks about his works. There isn’t much new there of course for anyone who has read the standard Kurosawa literature.

Another article, labelled “Kurosawa, the Last Emperor” (which coincidentally was once the working title of this website, but I deemed it too cliché), contains extracts from the 1981 interview by Tony Rayns, which was also printed in Bert Cardullo’s Akira Kurosawa: Interviews.

“Disputed territories” has Alexander Jacoby ask “What do two striking late 1940s films – Drunken Angel and Stray Dog – tell us about Kurosawa’s attitude to the post-war Allied Occupation of Japan?” Since I haven’t actually gotten the magazine (yet), I cannot tell you the answer.

After that, we have an article by Stuart Galbraith IV (author of The Emperor and the Wolf) which looks at Kurosawa’s attempts at breaking into Hollywood in the late 1960s with the failed Runaway Train and Tora! Tora! Tora! projects.

Finally, in an article titled “The Misfit”, Tony Rayns looks at the question how Japanese Kurosawa really was, arguing that while he was considered the archetypal Japanese director in the west, he was “something of an anomaly” for the Japanese.

There is of course plenty of other material in the magazine as well, as it is not all Kurosawa. For a full contents list, head over to BFI’s website. I assume that the July issue has already hit the news stands, or will do so soon. It also looks like you should be able to buy the issue from either here or here.





I got my copy yesterday. Its quite interesting, I like Jacoby’s essay, but I don’t think there is anything very new. Tony Rayns makes a few interesting points about the dynamics of male relationships in his films. But to be honest, I get the impression that there was a bit of a last minute rush to shove a few articles together, they don’t seem to really hang together in any meaningful way.



Incidentally, “Kurosawa: The Last Emperor” is also the name of that documentary by Alex Cox. 😛


Vili Maunula

Indeed, even Cox’s documentary is called that! For my defence, I don’t think that I actually knew about the documentary when I first built the prototype of this website back in 1998.

I actually had two related websites online for about half a year, before I closed most of my websites when moving to Japan. One of the two was a tribute to Kurosawa titled The Last Emperor, basically consisting of what is now the “quotes” section of this website, and the other was a companion page titled The Last Samurai dedicated to Mifune. As you can see, I have never been very good with titles — as also the title of Akira Kurosawa: News, Information and Discussion amply illustrates!

I wonder, by the way, if there isn’t something of a slight misunderstanding in the west, where talking about Kurosawa as “the emperor” is usually considered both a recognition of his artistry and a reference to his working methods on the set. Yet, as for instance Yoshimoto notes in one of his footnotes (pages 379-380), the nickname Kurosawa tenno actually carries a whole lot of negative connotations and, notes Yoshimoto, at least originally deliberately echoed Kumazawa tenno, “or Kumazawa Hiromichi, a shopkeeper in Nagoya, [who] publicly claimed in January 1946, about two weeks after Emperor Hirohito had denied his own divinity, that he was the true emperor of Japan. … While Kumazawa drew the attention of Japanese and foreign mass media, other self-proclaimed emperors appeared all over Japan. Given this historical background, the nickname ‘Kurosawa tenno’ belittles Kurosawa as a delusional upstart whose self-important image of himself is as ridiculous as that of Kumazawa Hiromichi.”

I still haven’t got my copy of Sight & Sound, which is most probably because I still haven’t ordered it. I entertain the idea of a local newspaper shop having it, but then again I think I would actually get it sooner if I ordered it rather that waited until I happen to visit that particular part of the town!

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