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Kurosawa,Ford and Melville – existential westerns

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    At-Pharazon

    Hello,

    I want to open up new topic here that has not been discussed before with sufficent care, but one I find very important in relation to Kurosawa’s western sensibilities which are one of the defining aspects of his work. Kurosawa, like Ford and Melville, seems to be concerned with the lack of moral ideals in the society of his time and thus feeling that characters with noble sensibilities are outcast in such society. We have see this in films like Ikiru,The Bad Men Sleep Well, Seven Samurai or Ran. With Ford, The Searchers is an analog to Seven Samurai. And Melville made a lot of existential westerns, showing that the code of honor is key to human existence, and the lack of it in the police departments. This code of honor always kills Melville’s ,,Samurai”, but they always sacrifice their lives consciously for it, which is something that the modern man is uncable to do.

    Seven Samurai has the same ending as The Searchers. Samurais so not belong into the society, even thought they did so much for it. Because the peasents have no morals, samurais cannot belong into their community. So you have the moraless society and someone who is ready to give for an ideal. That’s conflict that makes Kurosawa quite similar to Melville’s films. And with the Searchers there is a problem of even finding something to believe and live for. Again in Ran, the catastrophe happens because there are no morals or God to stop the sons from doing it.They can do whatever they want, so Ran is a good summary of 20’ century, because they can simply blow up the world and there is nothing to stop them (there is a clear fear of nuclear war in Ran) There is no concidence why Kurosawa made Hamlet and Idiot adaptations, because those are the same stories about ideals in an idealess society and the existential problems it creates. How do you look at this relationship between western-existentialism- and Kurosawa’s critique of post-war society? Do you agree or do you see these directors as strangers?

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