The BFI Southbank will host a two-month retrospective dedicated to Akira Kurosawa throughout January and February 2023 to accompany the rerelease of Rashomon on 6th January. Selected films are also currently available to stream in the UK via BFI Player.

Rashomon

Inspired by the Ryunosuke Akutagawa short stories In a Grove and Rashomon, Kurosawa’s twisting tale interrogates the nature of objective truth as a series of witnesses, including finally the murdered man himself, bear testimony regarding the murder of a samurai in the forest.

Society

  • The Most Beautiful – naturalistic national policy film from 1944 following the lives of female factory workers.
  • No Regrets for Our Youth – 1946 drama starring Setsuko Hara as a professor’s daughter who marries a radical leftist later executed as a spy.
  • One Wonderful Sunday – post-war drama in which an engaged couple attempt to have a nice day out in Tokyo for only 35 yen.
  • Scandal – Toshiro Mifune stars as an artist standing up against the gutter press with the help of Takashi Shimura’s conflicted lawyer.
  • The Idiot – Kurosawa’s adaptation of the Dostoyevsky novel in which a man recently discharged from a psychiatric institution encounters romantic tragedy.

Social Status

  • The Men Who Tread on the Tiger’s Tail – roles are reversed and the feudal order temporarily subverted in Akira Kurosawa’s irreverent take on a kabuki classic. Review.
  • The Lower Depths – 1957 adaptation of Gorky’s novel following the lives of a collection of people living in an Edo-era tenement.
  • The Hidden Fortress – two bumbling peasants agree to escort a general and a princess in disguise to safe territory in return for gold.
  • Dodes’kaden – Kurosawa’s first colour film exploring the lives of a collection of people living in a shantytown above a rubbish dump.
  • Kagemusha – historical drama set during the Warring States period in which a petty thief is forced to become a double for the shogun.
  • Seven Samurai – classic jidaigeki gets a post-war twist as a collection of down on their luck wandering samurai come to the rescue of peasants beset by bandits. Review.
  • The Bad Sleep Well – contemporary take on Hamlet starring Toshiro Mifune as man enacting an elaborate revenge plot against the corrupt CEO who drove his father to suicide. Review.
  • Sanjuro – sequel to Yojimbo in which Mifune reprises his role as the titular Sanjuro as he helps some locals stand up to samurai corruption.
  • High and Low – Toshiro Mifune stars as a wealthy man encountering a dilemma when his chauffeur’s son is kidnapped after being mistaken for his own.

Family

  • I Live in Fear – Toshiro Mifune stars as a factory owner so terrified of nuclear attack that he becomes determined to move his family to the comparative safety of Brazil while they attempt to have him declared legally incompetent on account of his intense paranoia.
  • Rhapsody in August – drama in which a grandmother who lost her husband in the atomic bombing learns that her long lost brother is alive and living in Hawaii.
  • Throne of Blood – eerie retelling of Macbeth starring Toshiro Mifune as the man who would be king and Isuzu Yamada as his ambitious wife.
  • Ran – Kurosawa’s take on Shakespeare’s King Lear relocated to feudal Japan.

Professional Lives

  • Drunken Angel – post-war tragedy starring Toshiro Mifune at his most dashing as gangster dying of TB and Takashi Shimura as the compassionate yet alcoholic doctor trying to save him.
  • The Silent Duel – medical drama starring Toshiro Mifune as a young doctor who contracted syphilis from a patient while working as a wartime field medic.
  • Stray Dog – a policeman (Mifune) and his partner (Shimura) scour post-war Tokyo for a missing gun.
  • Ikiru – existential drama starring Takashi Shimura as a civil servant reflecting on his life after discovering he has a terminal illness.
  • Yojimbo – samurai western starring Toshiro Mifune as a ronin drifter wandering into a turf war.
  • Red Beard –  humanistic drama starring Toshiro Mifune as a gruff yet compassionate doctor to the poor. Review.

Unclassifiable

  • Sanshiro Sugata 1 & 2 – drama inspired by the life story of a legendary judo master.
  • Dersu Uzala – Russian-language drama adapted from the 1923 memoir by Vladimir Arsenyev.
  • Dreams – a series of eight surreal vignettes.
  • Madadayo – Kurosawa’s final film. Comedy drama inspired by the life of Hyakken Uchida.

Available on BFI Player

The Kurosawa season runs at BFI Southbank 1st January to 28th February 2023. For the full details on this and other BFI seasons be sure to check out the BFI’s official website where you can also find a link to BFI Player. You can also keep up with all the latest news by following the BFI on TwitterFacebookInstagram, and YouTube.

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