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Reviewed version: October 6, 2015
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I suggest someone add the quote listed in the NY Times that says "I suppose all of my films have a common theme, Mr. Kurosawa once told the film scholar Donald Richie. If I think about it, though, the only theme I can think of is really a question: Why can't people be happier together? "
I don't think that's the full truth of the matter, there are other reoccurring themes, but it's a good start. Personally, I find that Kurosawa has taken a pretty strong stance against fighting and war as a means to a good end. This might be what he is referring to in his above statement. This is evident in the Seven Samurai at the end when the samurai are disappointed that they fought a war for the peasants who were ungrateful. In Kagemusha the story also ends in a bloody battle that the protagonists tried to prevent from occurring. In Dreams, there are several stories where war has caused major problems, one in which the main character, a veteran has a dream of his dead war comrades as well as the story about the horned demons who exist because of radiation caused by a nuclear blast.
There might be a slight connection between the theme of "nothing is ever as it initially appears" or "Hidden Identity" as well. Rashomon is the biggest example, but in the Hidden fortress, the two peasants are unsuspecting of the princess and the general because of their false identity. Kagemusha also supports this theme with the "shadow warrior" of the late lord. Seven Samurai has Mifune's character, who is actually a farmer not a true blue samurai. (and don't quote me on this one, but I believe in Ikiru the main character starts out by telling those around him, the girl and the writer, that he is someone who he is not. I will have to rewatch that one to find out for certain).
The Author of this article credits Stray Dog as Kurosawa's first collaboration with Toshiro Mifune, when it is in fact Kurosawa's breakthrough film, Drunken Angel which first starred the then unknown Mifune in a Kurosawa film. Drunken Angel was released in April of 1948 while Stray Dog was released in October of 1949. By this point Kurosawa had already collaborated with mifune a second time in The Quiet Duel. I believe it is important to recognize the significance of Drunken Angel, It is a spectacular film that is tremendously important to Japanese cinema and it is also responsible for launching Mifune's career as a actor and also introducing Kurosawa as a truly talented and skilled director. Donald Ritchie notes the importance of this film in his book, The Films of Akira Kurosawa. "Japanese critics have agreed that this picture is to Japanese cinema as Paisa or Bicycle Thieves is to Italian, that it perfectly epitomizes a period, its hopes, its fears: that it marks the major 'breakthrough' of a major directorial talent who has finally 'realized' himself."(Ritchie, 47) I will try to formalize this correction within the actual article, but am new to Wikipedia, so if anyone reads this and notices that the error was left uncorrected than please assume I was unable to do so and please correct it if you are able.
- Any quoted material is taken from The Films of Akira Kurosawa by Donald Ritchie.
On one occasion Kurosawa got to meet John Ford, a director commonly said to be the most influential to Kurosawa. And not knowing what to say Ford simply said, "You really like rain." Kurosawa responded "You've really been paying attention to my films"
Didn´t he answer?: "you´ve NOT really been paying attention to my films"
Rain stands for sadness and agony in his movies - Kurosawa does not like rain
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