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On the set of Sanjuro.

"I think that in order to find reality, each must search for his own universe, look for the details that contribute to this reality that one feels under the surface of things. To be an artist means to search, to find and look at these realities. To be an artist means never to look away."

Akira Kurosawa
March 23, 1910 — September 6, 1998

Akira Kurosawa — 1993.

Behind the scenes of Akira Kurosawa’s 1958 film The Hidden Fortress.

"In 1981, we visited George Lucas’s enormous studios… At the studio entrance stood R2D2 and C3PO, the robot pair inspired by a pair of farmers in The Hidden Fortress. Someone evidently told Lucas that Kurosawa had come to collect a copyright fee for their use. On hearing that, Kurosawa hastily told Lucas, ‘No, no!’ adding with a smile, ‘Please use them all you like.’” — Teruyo Nogami

Stray Dog — dir. Akira Kurosawa

Akira Kurosawa, Takashi Shimura, and Miki Odagiri on the set of Ikiru.

Akira Kurosawa with his honorary Oscar for Lifetime Achievement at the 62nd Academy Awards in 1990.

Sitting in his hotel room armchair, Kurosawa wondered aloud whether he really deserves his Oscar. “I have the feeling that I’m getting it partly because I’ve turned 80 and that it is an expression of warm feeling toward me.” The truth, of course, is that it is long overdue.
[Akira Kurosawa Earns Oscar for Life’s Work | L.A. Times]

Akira Kurosawa with his honorary Oscar for Lifetime Achievement at the 62nd Academy Awards in 1990.

Sitting in his hotel room armchair, Kurosawa wondered aloud whether he really deserves his Oscar. “I have the feeling that I’m getting it partly because I’ve turned 80 and that it is an expression of warm feeling toward me.” The truth, of course, is that it is long overdue.

[Akira Kurosawa Earns Oscar for Life’s Work | L.A. Times]

On October 9, 1981, the Directors Guild of America, located in New York City, held a reception for Kurosawa. The afternoon garden party was attended by many famous directors, the sun sparkled, and it was a wonderful day.

William Wyler, George Cukor, Samuel Fuller, Rouben Mamoulian and other towering figures from the world of cinema were all gathered in Kurosawa’s honor, and naturally he was thrilled. When I indicated that I didn’t know who Rouben Mamoulian was, Kurosawa told me, “Oh, he’s the one who made that masterpiece of cinema, Applause [1929].” He quickly went over to Mamoulian and greeted him.

On that day, Kurosawa was as excited as any young movie fan. The excitement of that day became an unforgettable, lifelong memory. In his later years, he would frequently reminisce: “It was a wonderful party. They all were gathered there on my account—such wonderful directors. Japanese film directors should do that, too. Get together with other directors all the time, and talk about films. If we did, more good films would be made.”

Teruyo Nogami, Waiting on the Weather

Toshiro Mifune and Akira Kurosawa with the cast and crew of Dersu Uzala at Mosfilm in 1975. A decade since last working together on Red Beard, Mifune visited Kurosawa during post-production on Dersu Uzala to interview him for a Japanese TV show. According to Kurosawa’s long-time assistant Teruyo Nogami, Mosfilm executives originally suggested Mifune for the role of Gold tribe hunter/guide Dersu, but Kurosawa did not believe Mifune was right for the part. The role eventually went to Tuvan theatre actor Maxim Munzuk.


Akira Kurosawa working as an assistant director to Mikio Naruse (right) on his 1937 film Avalanche.

Akira Kurosawa working as an assistant director to Mikio Naruse (right) on his 1937 film Avalanche.