Akira Kurosawa was one of the most prominent Japanese directors. His contribution to the world of cinema is incomparable. He has directed some of the most mind-boggling and thought-provoking movies held in high esteem by all directors of this generation. He has produced 30 films in his career. Here we are going to talk about some of his finest works.
1. Ikiru (1952)
Ikiru is a drama film that will make the audience teary-eyed. This movie explores the concept of death and presents a great example of how to face it. It is a heart-breaking movie about an older man named Kanji Watanabe who is suffering from the last stages of cancer. He decides to reunite with his son and daughter-in-law; much to his anguish, he realizes that the bonds between him and his family have faded away. Even though the movie gets set in a tragic backdrop, it takes an uplifting turn when Watanabe’s co-worker supports him to build a playground in a locality with underprivileged children. He finds joy in his newfound purpose and devotes himself to bringing happiness to the less fortunate. Eventually, Mr. Watanabe succumbs to his disease with warmth and happiness in his heart.
2. Rashomon (1950)
Rashomon is one of the most outstanding achievements of Akira Kurosawa. This movie deals with the concept of truth and justice. It is told from the perspective of four unreliable narrators, each having contradictory versions of a tragic incident involving a murder and a rape. The story digs deep into the complexities and hypocrisies of human behavior. It can easily get considered as one of the top 10 movies ever made due to its perfect execution and originality of the plot. This movie is the most memorable out of all of his works because Akira Kurosawa aimed to achieve a monstrous feat and succeeded with flying colors.
3. Seven Samurai (1954)
Seven Samurai is a cult classic and the most popular of all the movies directed by Akira Kurosawa. It gets remade in Hollywood with “The Magnificent Seven.” The film features an ensemble cast, and each of them delivered power-packed performances which are unparalleled. The story is about seven samurais who join arms to protect their village from invading forces. It is an epic movie and is rated 100% on rotten tomatoes. Don’t miss out on this one!
4. Throne Of Blood (1957)
Throne of Blood is a blood-curdling adaptation of William Shakespeare’s Macbeth. The story revolved around a samurai tormented by a prophecy of his death and instigated to take drastic measures due to his wife’s provocations. As the movie proceeds, Washizu’s narcissistic demeanor starts to manifest, leading to catastrophic consequences.
5. High And Low (1963)
High and Low is a crime drama film that follows the story of a wealthy industrialist who wants to buy a popular shoe store. He receives a phone call from a person who claims to have kidnapped his son. Later on, it gets found out that the kidnapper has abducted his chauffer’s son, but he still gets pressured to pay the ransom.
6. Stray Dog (1949)
Stray Dog is a crime noir movie that tells the story of an inexperienced detective, Murakami, who loses his service gun in a crowded bus. It gets set in the backdrop of the desperate times in post-war Tokyo. Murakami starts an investigation into the criminal underbelly of Tokyo. Soon a crime-spree ravages the city, and Murakami’s gun is linked to those crimes. An experienced detective named Takashi takes over the case as the lead investigator, and together they delve into the dark alleys of the underworld.
7. Yojimbo (1961)
Yojimbo is an action-adventure movie directed by Akira Kurosawa. A masterless samurai enters a village in Japan and starts to examine the power dynamics between two rival business people who are up in arms with each other regarding the control over a gambling trade. The opportunistic nature of the Samurai becomes evident when he convinces both of them to hire him as their bodyguard. The Samurai becomes the puppeteer and starts to manipulate their actions as he instigates them to wage war against each other while he reaps the profit from both sides.
8. The Hidden Fortress (1958)
The Hidden Fortress is a war drama movie that revolves around an army general and a princess who disguise themselves as tribal people to hide their identity and maintain a low profile as they are on the run from invaders. A few Japanese peasants found them hiding in a fortress and pitied them. They agree to help them in exchange for gold. On the journey, the entourage gets into a confrontation with others. The general receives compelled to demonstrate his expertise in battle.
9. Sanjuro (1962)
Sanjuro is the sequel to Yojimbo, and unlike Yojimbo, this movie has a lot of humor. It is more fast-paced and has more action sequences than Yojimbo. Thematically, Sanjuro leans towards being a satirical action movie rather than a hardboiled action movie.
10. Drunken Angel (1948)
Drunken Angel, directed by Akira Kurosawa, is a noir drama film that revolves around the dysfunctional relationship between an alcoholic doctor and a gangster. When a member of the Japanese Mafia gets shot, he gets sent to a doctor named Takashi Shimura. Later on, Takashi finds out that the gangster is suffering from tuberculosis. A journey of introspection and self-discovery follows as the doctor aligns himself with the Mafia. This movie is one of Akira Kurosawa’s earliest works and is considered his directorial breakthrough that introduced the world to his brilliance.