Infoplease Memorial: Akira Kurosawa

Updated February 28, 2017 | Infoplease Staff

1910?1998, Japanese film director, scriptwriter, and producer, born in Tokyo.

Akira Kurosawa is generally regarded as one of the twentieth century's great directors. In Rashomon (1950), he introduced Western audiences to Japanese film. Its bleakly humanistic stance toward the slippery nature of truth and its highly charged visual style marked Kurosawa's approach. His other films ranged freely through history, often adapting classics of Western literature, including several of Shakespeare's plays, to Japanese settings and attitudes. His films included Ikiru (1952), a moving study of an elderly bureaucrat facing death by cancer; Seven Samurai (1954), an epic adventure; Throne of Blood (1957), an adaption of Macbeth; Yojimbo (1960), a rousing Japanese-style Western; Ran (1985), a version of King Lear, and Rhapsody in August (1991), a series of vignettes mapping out the director's hopes and fears for humanity. In 1989, he received an Academy Award for the body of his work.

On Sunday the 6th of September, 1998, the director was felled by a stroke at the age of 88. While fans around the world mourned his loss, the Japanese government made plans to grant him the People's Honor Award, a national prize for cultural achievement.

Kurosawa's death came less than a year after that of Toshiro Mifune, the talented Japanese actor who starred in a number of the former's movies.

See his autobiography, Something Like an Autobiography (1982); The Films of Akira Kurosawa by Donald Richie (1996).

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