It is with sadness that I must report that Donald Richie, the author of The Films of Akira Kurosawa and so much more on Japanese film and culture, has passed away in Tokyo at the age of 88.
The news was reported on Japan Times, for which Richie wrote regularly for over 50 years. Details about the cause of death are not available, but Richie had reportedly suffered a number of heart attacks in recent years.
For more information about Richie’s work and life, I suggest the nicely compact Wikipedia article.
Although not everything Richie wrote, for instance about Kurosawa, was always fully water tight, his immense influence on not only the promotion of Japanese cinema abroad, but also film studies in general, cannot be overstated.
19 February 2013
I am sorry to hear this. Richie’s translation of Seven Samurai, which I borrowed from my local library shortly after seeing the movie for the first time, was my first written-word introduction to the world of Akira Kurosawa. Although you’re right that his assertions about Kurosawa’s films were not always tightly reasoned or supported, he played a big role in making Westerners aware of Kurosawa’s movies, and for that I will always be grateful.