木曜日, 5月 20, 2004

Ain't no Go Go Yubari in here!

i started to really get into movies by the great akira kurosawa in a big way when i was recently on vacation in kl. my dad mentioned how in the 50s, he and a friend went to watch a japanese flick called 'rashomon'. the movie was about a story where a man was murdered by a thief (ably played by toshiro mifune, another big name in japanese cinema) and the rape of the dead man's wife. the brilliant thing about 'rashomon' is that the details of the murder/rape was given from four different perspectives: the thief's, the wife's, the soul of the dead man (eeriely conveyed via a female shaman) and a woodcutter who witnessed the whole incident. sums up the saying that there's always (n+1) sides of a story. n people's and the truth.

i was at time square then with my dad, flipping through a myriad of dvd's (the dts ones kept in plastic, costing rm11 each... you know the kind i mean!). so i decided to get 'rashomon' and 'seven samurai'. i was hooked after that.

from the dvd commentary i could then understand why kurosawa was such a legend. coppola, lucas and spielberg looked up to kurosawa in a big way. george lucas' star wars 'episode iv: a new hope' was based on kurosawa's 1958 effort 'the hidden fortress' (kakushi toride nosan akunin). even our p. ramlee was deeply impressed with kurosawa's epic works. kurosawa was meticulous in his role as a director. if he needed rain (a recurring theme in some of his emotional scenes in his movies), there will be rain. wind? the great electric fans will recreate even a calm summer's breeze. every shot was composed as if it was artwork.

toshiro mifune was involved in many of kurosawa's classic work. the mifune-kurosawa efforts were much compared with those of de niro and scorsese in american cinema. mifune's character of kuwabatake sanjuro (which literally means 30 mulberry fields!) in 'yojimbo' was in fact caricatured by clint eastwood, instead of a toothpick in his mouth and a katana, eastwood's man with no name smoked a cheroot and used pistols. the imitation doesn't end there. sergio leone's seminal spaghetti western 'fistful of dollars' was scene-for-scene taken wholesale from 'yojimbo'. imitation was indeed the most honest form of flattery but not for leone, as he was later on sued by the japanese.

most of kurosawa's early works were pretty much jidai geki (period dramas). 'seven samurai' (shichinin no samurai) and 'yojimbo' were tributes to american cowboy films (kurosawa's trademark sunglasses were a homage to the great director of american westerns, john ford). in fact, ‘throne of blood’ (kumonosu jo) and ‘ran’ were clever adaptations of the Shakespeare classics, ‘macbeth’ and ‘king lear’, respectively. the method of acting employed in ‘throne of blood’ was reminiscent of that in traditional noh drama. after watching the depiction of noh in kurosawa’s ‘kagemusha’, i was struck by how such traditional movements of the actors were interpreted in 20th century cinema.


movie posters (l to r): seven samurai, throne of blood, the hidden fortress and yojimbo


'rashomon' awed me with its clever storytelling. 'throne of blood' scared the bejesus out of me. 'yojimbo' and its sequel 'sanjuro' made me laugh. 'seven samurai' was just pure genius. i just bought 'akahige' (mifune's last collaboration with kurosawa, after which neither men spoke to each other for many years) and 'ran' last night. 'the hidden fortress' dvd is on its way in the post. every kurosawa movie had been a different ride for me each time. now you wonder why every now and then i need a kurosawa hit?

2 Comments:

Blogger Trabye said...

Toshiro Mifune, huh? Care to blog on the genius of Rajnikanth? Dad is still traumatized by your three-hour-mental-torture session... : D

PadyapaaAaaAAaaaAr...

10:56  
Blogger cicatrizRG said...

guys... err, pls dont blame? [:P]

04:39  

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