The Associated Press newswire today reported the sad news of Kurosawa’s passing.
TOKYO (AP) — Legendary Japanese film director Akira Kurosawa, whose work inspired a generation of directors both in Japan and in the United States, died at his home Sunday at the age of 88, Kyodo news agency reported. Kurosawa’s films included epics such as “The Seven Samurai” and “Rashomon.” The cause of death was not immediately known. Kurosawa, known as “The Emperor” for his perfectionism and extravagance, was one of the few Japanese directors to find fame on international screens. The Cannes Film Festival honored Kurosawa with a special trophy for achievement upon the debut of his 28th film, “Ran,” or “Chaos,” in 1985. The epic, which Kurosawa called his “life’s work,” was named best picture of the year by America’s National Society of Film Critics. With a price tag topping $10 million, “Ran” was the most expensive movie in Japanese film history. “Take “myself,” subtract “movies,” and the remainder is “zero,”” the director once wrote. His themes often asserted the value of the warrior spirit, humanist ideals, and the urgency of self-sacrifice even if futile.
Critics have found his innovative style — celebrated for its elaborate detail and sweeping camera movements — influencing international films from George Lucas’ “Star Wars” to Brian DePalma’s “Scarface.”
Kurosawa’s movies include “Rashomon” (1950), “The Seven Samurai” (1954), “Throne of Blood” (1957), “Yojimbo” (1961), and “Kagemusha,” or “Shadow Warrior” (1980).
Born in Tokyo in 1910 to a family that had held samurai rank, Kurosawa was the youngest of eight children of a military school administrator. He turned to the cinema after failing to get into art school and tiring of poverty as a painter. In 1936 he stumbled on a film studio’s advertisement asking people to audition for an assistant directorship, tried out, and got it. At age 33, he directed his first film, “Sanshiro Sugata” (The Judo Saga). It was a hit in wartime Japan, but Kurosawa’s vision conflicted with some nationalist sentiments, and drew heated attacks from the military.
His work did not win much applause abroad until “Rashomon” got the Academy Award for Best Foreign Film in 1951.