Cinema of the Warrior: The Films of Akira Kurosawa
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Division: The New School for Public Engagement
School: School of Media Studies
Course Number: NFLM 3005
Course Format: Lecture
Permission Required: No
- Media Studies
- Film & Video History, Theory & Criticism
Akira Kurosawa, whose prolific career spanned five decades, is a master whose films have been admired and remade by directors around the world. Frances Ford Coppola once commented that Kurosawa "didn’t make one or two masterpieces. [He] made eight masterpieces." Kurosawa’s bold style revolutionized film technique, particularly in editing and audiovisual counterpoint. While his working philosophy was rooted in the life of postwar Japan, the films themselves are often action movies inspired by legends of samurai warriors and have an ethereal, timeless quality. Kurosawa’s mark as auteur is clear in every film; he directed and edited his own work. This short course focuses on four films: Rashomon (1950), Throne of Blood (1957), Yojimbo (1961), and The Seven Samurai (1954). We approach them from multiple perspectives, including history, psychology, and formalist and structuralist film theory. We discuss and deconstruct narrative elements and social context while giving attention to filmic elements such as lighting, framing, shot composition, editing, and sound design. Students watch one film weekly outside of class and read related texts assigned by the instructor. This is one of three five-week courses on world cinema auteurs that complement one another when taken sequentially.