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Akira Kurosawa on Video

Akira Kurosawa

Although not really famous for many public appearances, Kurosawa became more available to the media during the latter half of his career, giving interviews and even appearing in commercials. This page collects such videos from around the web. I have, however, chosen not to include full length documentaries about Kurosawa, information about which you can find behind the link above. Many of the videos below are in Japanese without any subtitles.

If you are interested in learning more about Kurosawa, you may also be interested in Akira Kurosawa video essays, as well as books about Kurosawa and his works. Or head over to the general index for a full list of topics found on this website.

Suntory Whiskey Commercials (1970s)

In the 1970s and 80s, Kurosawa had a relatively long advertising relationship with one of Japan’s oldest whiskey breweries, Suntory Whiskey. This video collects several of these short ads, including most (perhaps all?) of the commercials that Kurosawa did with Francis Ford Coppola in the late 1970s, as well as others. The Coppola ones came out in 1979 and tied in with the marketing campaign leading up to the release of Kagemusha in 1980. Coppola’s experiences no doubt later inspired his daughter Sofia, who went on to direct Lost in Translation that features Bill Murray as an ageing Hollywood actor shooting a Suntory commercial in Japan.

Dersu Uzala Wins Best Foreign Film Oscar (1976)

Kurosawa didn’t actually appear in person at the 1976 Academy Awards where his Soviet film Dersu Uzala was honoured with the award for the Best Foreign Film. I have nevertheless included a video of the occasion here, as the Academy president Jack Valenti reads a message by Kurosawa that calls for young filmmakers to continue on his footsteps.

The Making of Kagemusha (1979)

This fly-on-the-wall documentary by the Japanese television channel NHK was made during the production of Kagemusha. It is really interesting viewing, even if you don’t understand Japanese. The video is in three parts on YouTube, so I have put them together into a playlist.

Interview about The Hidden Fortress (1981)

This is a 1981 television interview where Kurosawa appears with The Hidden Fortress stars Misa Uehara and Minoru Chiaki, reminiscing about the film. The video is in Japanese, with no English subtitles.

The Making of Ran (1984-1985)

The YouTube account sun10ro has posted many videos about Kurosawa, primarily from the time of the making of Ran. There are dozens of these videos, all without commentary, so rather than embedding or linking to each of them here, I will direct you to this list which should cover them all. It is a fascinating glimpse into Kurosawa’s working methods.

NEC Office Computer Commercials (1988)

In 1988, Kurosawa appeared in the marketing campaign for the Japanese PC manufacturer NEC.

Exposition Kurosawa Featurette (1985)

Here is a short French featurette about Kurosawa’s visit to Paris in 1985 to attend an exhibition of his paintings and drawings.

Akira Kurosawa Receives Honorary Oscar (1990)

On the 26th of March 1990, Kurosawa was given an honorary Academy Award “for cinematic accomplishments that have inspired, delighted, enriched and entertained worldwide audiences and influenced filmmakers throughout the world”. The award was handed to him at the 62nd Academy Awards by George Lucas and Steven Spielberg, both of whom had worked with Kurosawa in the past decade and who were undoubtedly instrumental in the Academy honouring Kurosawa with the award. In his brief acceptance speech, Kurosawa famously pondered whether the award was deserved and looked forward to continuing making films.

You can watch the event below courtesy of the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences, although one section has been cut out that was shown in the original broadcast, containing a montage of Kurosawa’s films.

Making of Rhapsody in August (1991)

This is a Kurosawa produced documentary made during the making of Rhapsody in August that includes both interviews with Kurosawa, as well as on-set footage. It is in Japanese without any subtitles, other than the on-set bits with Richard Gere, where an English interpreter is present.

Kurosawa in Cannes (1991)

Kurosawa attended the 1991 Cannes film festival where Rhapsody in August was screened out of competition. Kurosawa’s trip was documented in this 40-minute featurette, which is available on YouTube in two parts, put together into a single playlist below. No English subtitles.

Akira Kurosawa Meets Hayao Miyazaki (1993)

Two giants of Japanese film industry, Akira Kurosawa and Hayao Miyazaki, met in May 1993 at Kurosawa’s country residence. They discuss the creative process of filmmaking. The YouTube copy is in seven parts, shown in a single playlist below.

The video is in Japanese, but you can find a translation of the conversation at Nausicaa.net.

Akira Kurosawa Talks With Takeshi Kitano (1993)

Another meeting between two Japanese film industry giants took place in 1993 (I think), when Kurosawa sat down with Takeshi Kitano to discuss filmmaking. The discussion is spread over three videos on YouTube, which I have bundled below into a single playlist. The meeting is not subtitled, but some kind soul has written summaries for each section, which you can find here.

Posthumous Commercials (2000s)

Kurosawa has been used in at least two commercials after his death. The first one embedded here is Hitachi’s 2005 “We Create” commercial, which aims to show the joy and importance of manufacturing by likening it to Kurosawa’s creative processes. The second one is from 2007, advertising Japanese beverage company Asahi’s coffee brand Wonda.