In 1910, film director Akira Kurosawa was born on this day in Tokyo, Japan. Rising to prominence in the post-WWII years and concluding his career in the early 1990s, Kurosawa is one of the most influential artists who ever lived. He is often considered the filmmaker’s filmmaker, inspiring a great many directors who would go onto their own successful careers, most notably George Lucas, who referenced several of Kurosawa’s movies in his Star Wars series.
Popular culture most celebrates Kurosawa's historical films, with their tales of flamboyant heroism and inner struggle in a brutal world. However, Kurosawa also made films set in modern Japan, commenting on social issues relevant to his postwar audience, such as the threat of nuclear annihilation or the effects of westernization on Japanese culture. No matter when he set his stories, Kurosawa always touched on humanist themes relevant to most people regardless of background, which became the secret of his continued international appeal.
Kurosawa’s style and sensibility originated from a myriad of sources: impressionist painting, Noh theater (a classical form of Japanese drama dating back to the fourteenth-century), nineteenth-century Russian literature (Fyodor Dostoyevsky was a particular favorite), kendo swordsmanship, Shakespeare plays (he would adapt Macbeth, Hamlet, and King Lear into films, setting them all in Japan), detective stories, and American westerns. He was an ardent believer in reading as much as possible to expand one’s worldview.
Kurosawa was long-lived, passing away at 88 years old. He left behind a rich legacy that continues to entertain and challenge audiences around the world.
Born March 23rd, 1910 in Tokyo, Japan and rising to fame as a director in the 1940s and 1950s, Akira Kurosawa remains one of the most influential filmmakers of all time. Explore both his films, and resources about his life and work through the materials below.