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Akira Kurosawa

KUROSAWA Akira (黒澤 明, March 23, 1910- September 6, 1998) was a prominent Japanese director, producer, and screenwriter of movies.

Kurosawa is perhaps Japan's best-known filmmaker. His films have been influential on a whole generation of filmmakers worldwide. His first film was released in 1941; his last in 1999 (posthumously). Few filmmakers have had a career so long or so acclaimed.

Kurosawa was born March 23, 1910, in Omori, Tokyo. During his lifetime he saw Japan change from an undeveloped country with military ambitions to a peaceful economic power. Although he is most remembered for his films of the 1950s and 1960s, he continued to direct and write films until his death. He died September 6, 1998, in Setagaya, Tokyo.

Kurosawa's best-known films are set in Japan's feudal period (about 13th century-17th century). Many of his plots are adaptations of William Shakespeare's works, for example, Ran (based on King Lear) and Throne of Blood (based on Macbeth). The Hidden Fortress (1958, Japanese name Kakushi toride no san akunin), the tale of a princess, her general, and two buffoon farmers, is credited by George Lucas as an influence on his Star Wars films. Other films include Rashomon, The Seven Samurai (later remade as the Western The Magnificent Seven) and Yojimbo (the basis for the Clint Eastwood western, A Fistful of Dollars). Kurosawa also directed film adaptations of Russian novels, including The Idiot by Dostoevsky and The Lower Depths, and American crime fiction in High and Low (based on an Ed McBain novel). Sixteen of his films, made between 1948 and 1964, recurrently feature the same actors, notably Toshiro Mifune, with whom he did not work after Red Beard, made in 1964. After that film Kurosawa began working in colour and changed the style and scope of his films, which had formerly tended toward the epic. His subsequent film Dodesukaden, about a group of poor people living around a rubbish dump, was not a success. Kurosawa then began work on a Hollywood project, Tora! Tora! Tora but 20th Century Fox replaced him with Kinji Fukasaku before it was completed.

After this Kurosawa attempted suicide, but survived. He went on to make several more films: Dersu Uzala, made in the USSR and set in Siberia in the early 20th century, Kagemusha, the story of a man who is the double of a medieval Japanese lord and takes over his identity, Ran, Kurosawa's Dreams, Rhapsody in August and Madadayo.

His works include:

See Film history of Japan.