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Stephen Prince passed away last December

Stephen Prince
While this is no longer really news, I feel I should mention that Stephen Prince passed away last December at the age of 65, after a short battle with cancer. In true AkiraKurosawa.info fashion, I am writing about this very very late indeed. My only defence is that I only learnt about it earlier this week, and I’d like to thank Shogo who brought this up during our email exchange.

Stephen, of course, was one of the foundations on which the castle that is the study of Kurosawa’s films has been built, especially in the west. His book The Warrior’s Camera: The Cinema of Akira Kurosawa is one of the essential Kurosawa publications that I would recommend to anyone who is interested in the subject, while the commentaries that he made for Criterion’s Kurosawa releases are some of the best film commentaries that I have heard on any film. But his interests and impact of course went much further and wider than just Kurosawa. I very much recommend reading the obituary posted by Virginia Tech where he taught for over 30 years.

From personal experience, I can say that he was a very lovely man. I cannot really claim to have known him personally, or even very well digitally, but in the few emails that we exchanged he came across as a very gentle and inquisitive soul, one that anyone would be lucky to have as their professor, friend or acquaintance.

Thank you for everything, Stephen.

Image copied from Virginia Tech.





I did not know either and appreciate you telling us, even if it is late.



Thanks for letting us know, thats sad news indeed. If you can get a sense of someone from their books, he came across, as you said, as a gentle and inquisitive soul.



thanks for the notification, vili.
a few years back, i had a chance to thank dr. prince by email for what he taught me through his commentaries.



Although this is an old thread, I had to point out that Professor Prince, whose The Warrior’s Camera I admire as much as Vili does, published a wonderful book about Masaki Kobayashi (Harakiri, Kwaidan) two years before his death: A Dream of Resistance: The Cinema of Kobayashi Masaki. It’s an excellent overview of the filmmaker whom I consider the fifth greatest in the history of Japanese Cinema (after Kurosawa, Ozu, Mizoguchi and Mikio Naruse, in that order). I corresponded with Prof. Prince briefly, and found him as thoughtful and courteous as others on this site did.

In fact, I was once considering writing my own book about Kobayashi before Prof. Prince beat me to it. It was because Kobayashi was “taken” that I decided to create a website (and hopefully, a future documentary) about my sixth-favorite Japanese director: Tomu Uchida, “the world’s greatest unknown filmmaker.”

It should be noted that in the Kobayashi book, that director did not express a very high opinion of his colleague and friend Kurosawa. (In fact, Kobayashi’s mentor Keisuke Kinoshita, it seems, also didn’t appreciate A.K. very much.) Kurosawa seems not to have cared for Kobayashi, either, since he pointedly excluded any of his films from his own famous list of 100 favorite films.

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