PBS’ Great Performances recently ran a 2-hour documentary biopic on the great Japanese director Akira Kurosawa.
It was pretty interesting – and included some truly horrifying newsreel shots of the carnage and most especially corpses left after the great Tokyo quake and fire of the mid-1920s, in which as many died at Hiroshima and Nagasaki are thought to have pershed. Apparently the young Kurosawa was toured through the wreckage and stinking dead by his older brother; it’s thought to be reflected in Ran (which I love because of its’ unredeemable hopelessness about humanity).
There were some tiny excerpts from films he made during the war, too, that I found interesting.
I felt it did not sufficiently cover the odd relationship toward Kurosawa’s work seen in Japan, where he’s dissed as too western, and too modern. The first critique is usually addressed as Japanese “fit-in” ism; the second is based on the fairly harsh view of human nature and the critical depictions of Japanese social structure that pervade his films. This criticism is almost invisible to the western viewer, but consider his use of the wild individual as a central feature of his films: this is seriously NOT a Japanese traditional hero.
Anyway, the film was interesting, and I learned from it.