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The Films of Akira Kurosawa by Donald Richie
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May 20, 2012

it was amazing
Read from March 29 to May 18, 2012

A rare thing: A scholarly coffee-table book!

Donald Richie analyzes Kurosawa's work film by film. Each films is given a synopsis, then an analysis of characterization and film technique. Exhaustive and sometimes exhausting.

Last year was the 100th anniversary of Kurosawa's birth. Thanks to the essential Turner Classic Movies, I was able to see almost all of his films from the beginning through Kagemusha. The only older film they did not show was The Quiet Duel, which I still haven't seen.

Since I was able to see almost his complete output, this book was a delight, jogging my memory about films I had forgotten (Stray Dog, Scandal, The Lower Depths), pleasurably taking me through films I know well (Rashomon, High and Low, Red Beard).

Richie apparently was well-acquainted with 'Tenno' (Emperor) Kurosawa, and many of his techinical analyses are backed up with actual reminiscences of visits to the set of the film in question. Indeed, an invaluable perspective for a critic.

It looks like I read the first edition of this which came out in the 1970s, so the last movie to be analyzed is Red Beard. I saw on Amazon that he later expanded the book to include all Kurosawa's films. The reviewer I read took Richie to task for dismissing much of Kurosawa's later work as sentimental and sub-par. That is not the tone in this volume. It is reverential, with thorough analyses backing up that reverence.
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