Akira Kurosawa Biography

Spread the love

akira-kurosawa-1Akira Kurosawa Biography

Quick Facts

Kurosawa, Akira, The Emperor, Wind Man, Akira Kurosava
23 March 1910 AD
Aries    Aries Men

06 September 1998 AD
Isamu Kurosawa
Shima Kurosawa
Heigo Kurosawa
Yōko Yaguchi
Kazuko Kurosawa, Hisao Kurosawa
Kurosawa Film Studio
1951 – Golden Lion – Rashomon
1990 – Academy Honorary Award
1976 – Academy Award for Best Foreign Language Film – Dersu Uzala

Japanese filmmaker Akira Kurosawa, who was widely regarded as one of the most influential directors in the history of cinema. In his career of 57 years he directed more than 30 films. He said he credited with bringing Japanese cinema to Western markets and opened doors for many Japanese and Asian directors to make a mark in the West. His journey is mentioned quite a remarkable director of the internationally acclaimed filmmaker. However, many have found better acclaim and success in the Japanese director, his films continue to call for film connoisseurs today. Art, history, philosophy and visual imagery blend their ideas brought to life on screen. He also such ‘Hakuchi’ (based on the novel by Fyodor Dostoyevsky), ‘Kumonosu- who took many Western classics adapted into films as’ Donzoko’ to play, and Maxim Gorky from Macbeth, Shakespeare. Filmmaking style was a far cry from the natural tendency of the Japanese films. Economic difficulties continue to churn their style has never moved away and stood the test of time through scripts and images.

Childhood & Early Life
  • Akira Kurosawa was born on March 23, 1910, in Tokyo, Japan. He was the youngest of eight children born to Isamu and Shima. His father was a member of a former samurai family who later became a teacher at the Army’s Physical Education Institute. His father was a progressive thinker who considered films and theatre to have educational merit.

  • In school, Akira was inspired by his elementary school teacher, Mr. Tachikawa, who helped him discover the joys of drawing. He also learnt calligraphy and Kendo swordsmanship.

  • Among the seven siblings, the one who influenced Kurosawa the most was Heigo, his senior by four years. He encouraged young Akira to face his fears and confront unpleasant truths which would later become the basis for many of his films.

  • During the 1920s, Heigo became a narrator for silent films and thus, Kurosawa was exposed to films, theatre, and circus performances. He gave up his ambition to become a painter when he realized his art was not enough to provide a living.

  • When Akira was 23, Heigo committed suicide. This was as a major tragedy in his life that would affect him deeply and left a lasting sense of loss.


  • Akira Kurosawa began his career in 1936 as an assistant director at Photo Chemical Laboratories (known as P.C.L) cinema studio. He mostly worked under Kajiro Yamamoto who had taken a liking to him. He was given more responsibilities as a result and he dabbled in errands from stage construction to film development.

  • He made his debut as a director in 1943, with the film ‘Sanshiro Sugata’. The film was caught in a censorship battle because it was deemed too “British-American”. The intervention of director Yasujirō Ozu made the movie see the light of day. It was a story of Japanese judo masters of the 1880s and became a critical and commercial success.

  • He then directed ‘Ichiban Utsukushiku’ (The Most Beautiful) in 1944; the movie was about wartime female factory workers. It was on this movie’s sets that he met his future wife, Yōko Yaguchi.

  • His first major work, ‘Yoidore Tenshi’ (Drunken Angel) was released in 1948. It won rave reviews and was chosen as the “Best Film of the Year” by the Kinema Junpo critics’ poll. He cast Toshiro Mifune, then an unknown actor, as the lead and thus began their long collaboration.

  • With producer Sōjirō Motoki and directors Kajiro Yamamoto, Mikio Naruse, and Senkichi Taniguchi, he formed an independent production unit called Eiga Geijutsu Kyōkai (Film Art Association). The first film under this banner was the modest hit, ‘The Quiet Duel’.

  • 1950 was a turning point in his career. It was the year he directed ‘Rashomon’. Based on an experimental short story, it was marked by its unique theme and treatment. Critics were unimpressed and gave it a lukewarm response. What the Japanese film world was unprepared for was the response from the West. ‘Rashomon’ was received with huge acclaim at the Venice Film Festival and laid the foundation for his entry into the Western film world.

  • His greatest commercial success was ‘Shichinin No Samurai’ (Seven Samurai) in 1954. His attention-to-detail and numerous rehearsals made this epic almost 3 ½ hours long. In 1979, it was voted the best Japanese film ever made in a poll by Japan’s leading critics.

  • He set up Kurosawa Productions in 1960 and made a number of entertainment films such as ‘Yojimbo’ (The Bodyguard) in 1961 and ‘Akahige’ (Red Beard) in 1965.

  • His first Hollywood project ‘Tora! Tora! Tora!’ was produced by 20th Century Fox and Kurosawa Productions, in 1970. It dramatized the Japanese attack on Pearl Harbor from both the American and the Japanese points-of-view. It was not well-received by critics and the public and thus began a period of struggle for him.

  • Success eluded him for some time until 1975, when his film ‘Dersu Uzala’, a story about a Siberian hermit won him many accolades and put him back on the map.

  • His success continued with ‘Kagemusha’ in 1980 and ‘Ran’ in 1985. Both these films depicted powerful scenes, grand imagery, and intense dramatic performances and went on to become his most notable works.

  • Madadayo’ (1993) would become the last film he would direct before ill health slowed him down and confined him to a wheelchair. It was not well-received.

You may also like...

Leave a Reply