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Eulogy: Akira Kurosawa

2 minute read
Martin Scorsese

Akira Kurosawa, who died on Sept. 6, was one of the towering figures of world cinema. His work–31 movies made over 50 years–is one of the great treasures of film history. Kurosawa introduced Japanese cinema to the West in 1950 with Rashomon, a work of tremendous moral and cinematic force whose influence on Western filmmakers is immeasurable. This was the first in a series of masterpieces from Kurosawa in the ’50s and ’60s, one more startling than the other: Ikiru, The Seven Samurai, Throne of Blood, The Hidden Fortress, Yojimbo, High and Low; in his work, the CinemaScope frame always threatens to explode with odd tensions and latent energies. It is perhaps Ikiru, about a man with cancer who searches for meaning in life, that had the greatest impact on me. Seeing this film was one of the most intense emotional experiences of my teenage years. From then until the time, many years later, when I played a small part in his film Dreams, my admiration for the mental agility and physical energy of this great master (who at 82 was still climbing ladders on the set) never waned. While it saddens me that he is gone, I know that his genius–which allowed him to achieve much, much more than most of us could ever hope for–will live on forever in his films.

–Martin Scorsese

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