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Akira Kurosawa Video Essays

Akira Kurosawa smiling

The video essay is a very suitable format for discussing films and filmmakers. Ever since the relevant technology and online distribution became available to just about everyone, Akira Kurosawa and his works have inspired quite a number of such videos, with new ones appearing regularly.

This page is a smorgasbord of video essays that are currently available across various services. I have opted for a fairly loose definition of a “video essay” here, which also includes filmed lectures, talks and discussions. Only English language videos are included, however.

The videos below are in a rough alphabetical order. They are embedded for your viewing convenience, but if you like a video, I highly recommend following the links provided and checking out the creator’s other videos. Many of the essayist post regularly on a range of film subjects.

If you want to learn more about Kurosawa, you may also be interested in Akira Kurosawa books, Akira Kurosawa’s appearances on video and Akira Kurosawa documentaries.

A full list of topics covered by this website’s info section can be found here.

Akira Kurosawa – Composing Movement

The celebrated YouTube video essayist Tony Zhou (Every Frame a Painting) discusses Kurosawa’s use of movement, and how he captured it on the screen.

The video can be found on YouTube.

Akira Kurosawa: Influences and Influence

This two-part essay discusses Kurosawa’s influence on other filmmakers, as well as the sources that in turn influenced Kurosawa himself.

The video essay is by Kyle Forbes and can be found on YouTube: part 1 and part 2. Below, I have bundled the videos together into a handy playlist.

Akira Kurosawa: Violent Motion

An introduction to Kurosawa’s use of character and camera movement, visual layering and weather elements, all of which the director used to enhance his storytelling.

The video essay is by Andrew Bacon and is available at Vimeo

Akira Kurosawa – What Inspires a Story

A video essay that looks at what inspired Kurosawa, although not in terms of other artists but more in terms of life events.

The video is by Jack’s Movie Reviews and is available on YouTube.

The Bad Sleep Well – Geometry of a Scene

A short but very revealing video essay that discusses a single scene from The Bad Sleep Well and illustrates some of the methods that Kurosawa used to visually tell his stories.

The video is by Tony Zhou of Every Frame a Painting and it can be found on YouTube.

Evolution of an Artist: Akira Kurosawa

This series of video essays sets out to trace the development of Akira Kurosawa as a filmmaker by looking at four of his seminal works: Stray Dog, Rashomon, Ikiru and Seven Samurai. There are four videos, which I have joined together into a single playlist below.

The videos are by Nerdy Inc and can be found on his YouTube channel.

Focal Lengths Used by Kurosawa

A look at the focal lengths Kurosawa used when capturing his films. The video essay argues that the widely held view that Kurosawa preferred telephoto lenses is an oversimplification.

The video is by Sareesh Sudhakaran and is available on YouTube. There is also a companion article, which you can find here.

High and Low (Critics’ Picks)

The New York Times film critic A. O. Scott looks at Akira Kurosawa’s High and Low and the themes and topics that it deals with.

The video essay is available on YouTube.

How Akira Kurosawa Framed Rashomon

This video essay looks at how Kurosawa chose to frame the scenes in his film Rashomon, and explores the meanings conveyed by those decisions.

The video is by Mr Nerdista and can be found on YouTube.

Kurosawa and Rashomon

This university lecture from MIT looks at Kurosawa’s Rashomon in the context of its place between modernism and traditional arts. It also looks at the film’s structure and style.

The lecture is given by MIT professor David Thorburn and can be found on YouTube.

Kurosawa’s Rashomon

A lecture given by Cambridge anthropology professor Alan Macfarlane on Akira Kurosawa’s Rashomon and how it reflects Japanese culture and the shock about the country’s defeat in the Second World War.

The video is available on YouTube.

The Morality of High and Low

An analysis of the moral dilemma that High and Low centres on.

The video is by Jack’s Movie Reviews and can be found on YouTube.

On the Violence of Seven Samurai

A very brief video where Kurosawa experts David Desser, Stephen Prince and Donald Richie discuss Kurosawa’s use of violence in Seven Samurai.

The video is from Criterion’s extras for the film and made available by the company itself on YouTube.

Philosophy – A Preface to Rashomon

This one is a Greenfield Community College lecture on Rashomon, apparently meant for an introduction to philosophy class. It discusses the nature of truth and understanding in the film.

The lecture is by David Makinster and can be found on YouTube.

Profiles in Editing – Akira Kurosawa

An analysis of the final battle in Seven Samurai, from an editing point of view.

The video is by Phil Baumhardt and can be found on YouTube.

Ran (Critics’ Picks)

The New York Times film critic A. O. Scott discusses Akira Kurosawa’s Ran: its bleakness, mythology and psychology.

The video essay is available on YouTube.

Renegade Cut on Akira Kurosawa

Here are four videos that analyse Kurosawa’s Seven Samurai, Rashomon, Ran and Yojimbo, posted as part of the YouTube channel Renegade Cut’s Kurosawa month in 2015. I have bundled the videos together into a playlist.

The video essays are by Renegade Cut and can be found on his YouTube channel.

Robert Altman on Rashomon

A short video in which director Robert Altman discusses Rashomon and its impact and influence.

The video, which has been included on Criterion’s releases of Rashomon, is available on YouTube.

Rogue One Explained: The Force of Kurosawa in Star Wars

A short video essay that discusses Kurosawa’s influence on Star Wars, and the 2016 film Rogue One in particular.

The video was published by ScreenPrism and is available on YouTube.

Samurais & Outlaws

The video essay compares and contrasts the cinematic storytelling of Yojimbo with that of Sergio Leone’s remake, A Fistful of Dollars.

The video is by Tucker Dawes and can be found on YouTube.

Seven Samurai – Drama Through Action

A video essay that looks at how Kurosawa’s Seven Samurai was more than what the modern definition of an action film encompasses.

Made by Channel Criswell, the video can be found on YouTube.

Seven Samurai’s Historical Perception

This video essay talks about the content and reception of Seven Samurai and how it has influenced modern cinema.

Made by Wazy, the video can be found on YouTube.

The Simulated Camera (of Kurosawa and Miyazaki)

A video that points out similarities between the cinematography of Studio Ghibli director Hayao Miyazaki and that of Akira Kurosawa.

The video is by Aidan VH and can be found on YouTube.

Talking About Movies: Akira Kurosawa

This episode of a weekly film discussion show is dedicated to Akira Kurosawa and his films Stray Dog, Rashomon, Seven Samurai and Ikiru in particular.

The video is by Talking About Movies and is available on Vimeo.

To Dreams of Kurosawa

The 2004 film Throwdown by Hong Kong director Johnnie To concludes with what can be considered an homage to Akira Kurosawa. The video essay explores links between the two directors, primarily by juxtaposing Throwdown with scenes from Kurosawa’s films.

The video is by FilmStillLives and can be found at Vimeo.

Yojimbo and Fistful of Dollars: A Shot by Shot Montage

A short montage that shows scenes from Yojimbo and Sergio Leone’s Fistful of Dollars side by side.

The video is by Alejandro Villareal and can be found on Vimeo.