A Look Back: Akira Kurosawa (1910-1998)

This is the third in a three-post series where I share my school reports from my first real film class, Film History. These were the first serious writings I did on film, and they offer a look back at the foundations that would eventually lead me to start writing reviews here at Silver Emulsion. I recently found them in a box while preparing to move, and I hope they are as entertaining to you as they are to me (they won’t be). These were written about twelve years ago during the Fall of the year 2000, when I was a spry nineteen years old. I will be re-creating the documents with the same formatting and images to the best of my abilities with the WordPress editor. Also, I’m leaving in any grammar errors or other things that I might want to change. It’s all about posterity and not falling into the George Lucas trap. Anyway, enjoy! Maybe.

Akira Kurosawa (1910-1998)

“I simply make a film as I want it to be,” Akira Kurosawa replied when asked why he shoots his films the way he does. It is this independence, this incredible cinematic vision, that has given Akira Kurosawa the nickname of The Emperor. His films not only inspire and teach but also entertain with top notch acting and visuals. Kurosawa never settled for second best and it comes through in every single one of his films, especially the three films I have chosen to focus on: Rashomon, Yojimbo, and Ran. These films were all pivotal to Kurosawa’s career, Rashomon made him famous, Yojimbo was his biggest commercial success, and Ran was the film that he felt to be his best. All of the films are set in the past, in Japanese history. As a student, Kurosawa was very interested in literature, especially Dostoevsky and Shakespeare, and the kodan, a story-telling entertainment where traditional samurai tales were told. Obviously, these interests molded themselves into the films Kurosawa made and shaped his style and vision into something the world had never seen before.

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The Baron of Arizona (1950)

The Baron of Arizona (1950)

Starring Vincent Price, Ellen Drew, Vladimir Sokoloff, Beulah Bondi, Reed Hadley, Robert Barrat, Robin Short, Tina Pine, Karen Kester, Margia Dean, Jonathan Hale, Edward Keane, Barbara Woodell, I. Stanford Jolley, Fred Kohler Jr.

Directed by Samuel Fuller

Expectations: Moderate. I love Fuller’s films, this one seems like it might be underwhelming though.

The Baron of Arizona is an interesting film within the filmography of Samuel Fuller in that it isn’t nearly as upfront and in your face as the traditional Fuller picture. As a second feature, it comes off as something wholly different from his début I Shot Jesse James, showing off Fuller’s growing confidence as a filmmaker. The film is based on a true story of one of the biggest land scams in the history of the United States. While the facts here are bent for the purpose of fun storytelling, the film ultimately succeeds by portraying the characters and events in such memorable ways.

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