Akira Kurosawa is one of the most famous Japanese film directors in history. He was born on April 7, 1910, in Tokyo, Japan.

His father was a train conductor and his mother worked in a bank. He had three older brothers and two younger sisters.

When he was only seven years old, his family moved to the town of Ōmiya in Gunma Prefecture.

He studied at Waseda University where he majored in philosophy and literature.

Who Is Akira Kurosawa Film?

After graduating from college, he went on to work as an assistant director for several years before starting his own production company called “Industrial Film Company” (IFC). In between working at IFC, Kurosawa also did some freelance directing for other companies such as Toho Company Ltd.,

Toei Company Ltd., Daiei Motion Picture Co., Gullane Co., and Shochiku Motion Picture Co..

In 1952, Akira Kurosawa directed his first film titled “Stray Dog” which actually won him the Best Director award from the Tokyo Film Festival (TFF).

Best Akira Kurosawa Films

Let’s take a look at Kurosawa’s best films.

1. Seven Samurai (1954)              

In this classic film, a group of peasants try to protect their village from marauding bandits, but the villagers’ efforts are thwarted by the greed of an unscrupulous merchant. This tale inspired numerous remakes and parodies throughout the years.

One of these remakes was Seven Samurai (1954), directed by Akira Kurosawa and starring Toshiro Mifune as the leader of a group of samurai who come to aid a village against thieves. The film is also known as Yojimbo (勇者物語, “The Story of the Valiant Heroes”) in English-speaking countries.

Seven Samurai was written by Kurosawa’s longtime collaborator Shinobu Hashimoto based on his story “Samurai Reincarnation” which was published in Bungei Tsūshin magazine in 1950.

It centers around a group of farmers who band together to defend their village from a gang of bandits led by an evil landowner named Lord Toranaga (Toshiro Mifune). The headstrong leader of this group is Samura (Toshiro Mifune), who was once Lord Toranaga’s samurai but now has turned against him after years spent working on his farm instead

Seven Samurai (English Subtitled)
  • Amazon Prime Video (Video on Demand)
  • Toshiro Mifune, Takashi Shimura, Keiko Tsushima (Actors)
  • Akira Kurosawa (Director) - Akira Kurosawa (Writer) - Sojiro Motoki (Producer)
  • (Playback Language)
  • Audience Rating: NR (Not Rated)

2. Yojimbo (1961)           

Yojimbo is a 1961 Japanese period drama film directed by Akira Kurosawa. The film stars Toshirō Mifune as a samurai hired to protect a peasant village against an evil bandit leader and his gang of thugs. The film was based on James Clavell’s novel Shōgun, which had been published in 1958.

The movie is considered one of the greatest samurai movies ever made, and it was nominated for Best Foreign Language Film at the 1964 Academy Awards.

It won the Golden Globe Award for Best Foreign Language Film and was nominated for both the Academy Award for Best Foreign Language Film and BAFTA Award for Best Foreign Language Film at the 23rd British Academy Film Awards in 1962. The film also won the Golden Lion at the Venice Film Festival.[2]

The film was remade in 1984 as Yojimbo starring Clint Eastwood as Sanjuro with Tatsuya Nakadai as Jundo, Masayuki Mori as Kaji and Seijun Suzuki as Sanjuro’s mentor Hanbei Takenaka.[3]

Yojimbo (English Subtitled)
  • Amazon Prime Video (Video on Demand)
  • Toshiro Mifune, Tatsuya Nakadai, Yoko Tsukasa (Actors)
  • Akira Kurosawa (Director) - Ryuzo Kikushima (Writer) - Tomoyuki Tanaka (Producer)
  • (Playback Language)
  • Audience Rating: NR (Not Rated)

3. Ran (1985)     

In this film, Kurosawa explores the themes of power and corruption in feudal Japan. The story revolves around the journey of a poor scholar who becomes an emperor.

The film’s protagonist, Chikayoshi, is portrayed by Takashi Shimura. He plays an aristocrat who is married to a beautiful woman named Ran (Mieko Harada). While on their wedding anniversary, they are brutally murdered by her jealous husband.

Chikayoshi’s story begins when he is found alive after being drowned in the Seine River. He has been brought back to life by a monk named Jigoku who was hired by his father to find him after his death.

Jigoku tells Chikayoshi that he must travel to Kyoto for three reasons: to obtain an imperial seal, to meet with an influential person there named Lord Hideyoshi Toyotomi and finally attain power over all Japan through marriage with one of its daughters (Tomoko Ihara).

In order to accomplish these goals, Chikayoshi agrees to become an orphaned child again and live among peasants until he can grow up.

Ran (1985)
  • Amazon Prime Video (Video on Demand)
  • Tatsuya Nakadi, Akira Terao, Jinpachi Nezu (Actors)
  • Akira Kurosawa (Director) - Akira Kurosawa (Writer) - Masato Hara (Producer)
  • (Playback Language)
  • Audience Rating: R (Restricted)

4. Ikiru (1952)   

Ikiru is a 1952 Japanese film directed by Akira Kurosawa. It was the first film to win all five major Japanese film awards, and it won the Palme d’Or at the 1952 Cannes Film Festival.

The movie opens with a scene in which two men are hanged, then moves to a hospital where Masaji Kita (Toshiro Mifune) is told by his doctor that he has only a few months to live. He decides to volunteer as a doctor in an impoverished village where most of the children die before their fifth birthday, which he sees as an indictment of modern society rather than just an unthinking quirk of nature.

He begins treating patients by using his own blood to donate them blood plasma, but when this becomes impossible he works with other doctors to save lives by providing transfusions from those who have been saved.

The story is based on the novel The Life of Oharu, written by Natsume Sōseki in 1905 and released in serial form between 1904 and 1906. A slightly different version was released in 1915 under the title The Life of Choshu Ryūnosuke, which was also adapted into a 1922 silent movie directed by Mikio Naruse.

Ikiru
  • Amazon Prime Video (Video on Demand)
  • Takashi Shimura, Nobuo Kaneko, Shinichi Himori (Actors)
  • Akira Kurosawa (Director) - Shinobu Hashimoto (Writer) - Shojiro Motoki (Producer)
  • English (Playback Language)
  • English (Subtitle)

5. Rashomon (1950)       

 Rashomon is a 1950 Japanese action-fantasy film directed by Akira Kurosawa. It tells the story of four people who tell different versions of the same event: a rape and murder in a forest near a samurai’s castle. The title refers to Rashomon, Japan’s famous mythological place of hell.

The film was based on Ryūnosuke Akutagawa’s short story “Rashomon” (1922). The screenplay was written by Akira Kurosawa and Shinobu Hashimoto, with an additional story by Kurosawa and Kiminosuke Fukuda.

Kurosawa completed work on the screenplay in 1945; it was originally titled “Hokusen”. However, he decided to make it into a film after seeing Fat Man and Little Boy (1946) at Toho Studios, who had purchased the rights to produce the film for ¥600 million.

The producers wanted to replace Akira Kurosawa as director with Kinji Fukasaku but eventually agreed to let him finish his own script.

The film was shot from March through May 1950 over five weeks at Toho Studios in Tokyo, Japan. Filming took place at locations near Mount Fuji including Mount Hiei in Yamanashi Prefecture and Mount Tak

Rashomon
  • Amazon Prime Video (Video on Demand)
  • Toshiro Mifune, Machiko Kyo, Masayuki Mori (Actors)
  • Akira Kurosawa (Director) - Ryunosuke Akutagawa (Writer) - Minoru Jingo (Producer)
  • English (Playback Language)
  • English (Subtitle)

6. High and Low (1963) 

 High and Low (1963) is a Japanese period action-drama film directed by Akira Kurosawa. The film is based on a novel of the same name by Ryūnosuke Akutagawa, which was serialized in the magazine Shincho from 1924 to 1926.

The film’s cast includes Toshiro Mifune, Takashi Shimura and Kinuyo Tanaka. It was adapted for the screen by Kurosawa’s long-time collaborator Shinobu Hashimoto and released to Japanese cinemas on November 18, 1963. High and Low won the 1960 Academy Award for Best Foreign Language Film and was entered into the 1963 Cannes Film Festival.

High and Low tells the story of two rival gangs who vie for control of an opium trade in Tokyo during the early Meiji period (1868–1912). The film opens with Tatsuo (Toshiro Mifune), a member of a gang led by Kichiemon (Takashi Shimura), who has been assigned to protect his boss’s daughter Shino (Kinuyo Tanaka).

When Tatsuo falls in love with Shino, he becomes jealous when she begins dating another man named Seiji (Kazuo Hasegawa). After being beaten up by.

High and Low (English Subtitled)
  • Amazon Prime Video (Video on Demand)
  • Toshiro Mifune, Kyoko Kagawa, Tatsuya Mihashi (Actors)
  • Akira Kurosawa (Director) - Akira Kurosawa (Writer) - Ryuzo Kikushima (Producer)
  • (Playback Language)
  • Audience Rating: NR (Not Rated)

7. Throne of Blood (1957)            

Kurosawa’s second film, Throne of Blood, is an epic of feudal Japan, with a story that is more complex and nuanced than Rashomon. It tells the tale of Lord Hidetora (Toshiro Mifune), who is about to be killed by his brother-in-law Taro (Tsuyoshi Ihara).

But first he has one last chance to prove himself to his people, by marrying his daughter to the King’s brother.

The Japanese title translates as “Bloodline”. The name was chosen because it was meant to evoke both a bloodline and a spirit line that runs through all creatures. The film was shot in Yamanashi Prefecture and other parts of Japan, including Toyama City and Fukui City.

In this film, Kurosawa began what would become his trademark approach to filmmaking: filming on location instead of in studios. He used natural light whenever possible and filmed some scenes with multiple cameras at once.

This allowed him more flexibility when editing later on in post production.

Throne of Blood (English Subtitled)
  • Amazon Prime Video (Video on Demand)
  • Toshiro Mifune, Isuzu Yamada, Minoru Chiaki (Actors)
  • Akira Kurasawa (Director) - Hideo Oguni (Writer) - Sojiro Motoki (Producer)
  • (Playback Language)
  • Audience Rating: NR (Not Rated)

8. Kagemusha (1980)     

The story of the film is based on a real historical figure, Tokugawa Yoshimune. In 1615, he became shogun and ruled Japan with an iron fist for 24 years before retiring. The movie is set in the 11th year after his retirement, when he has become a lonely old man living in a remote mountain village.

His only companion is his retainer Kageyama Gorosuke, who turns out to be his double. He has been ordered by the previous shogun to impersonate Yoshimune and live as him for a year so that the next ruler can learn how to rule without being influenced by his predecessor’s policies.

However, the real Yoshimune dies during this time period and Gorosuke goes into hiding.

When Gorosuke’s son becomes concerned about his father’s whereabouts, he hires some men from town to search for him but they fail track down anyone matching his description.

Finally they come across a group of bandits who are trying to burn down a farmhouse but they are also looking for someone who looks like Yoshimune; they mistake Gorosuke for him because he has his beard shaved off and wears glasses instead of reading glasses (which were only worn by men at

Kagemusha: Shadow Warrior
  • Amazon Prime Video (Video on Demand)
  • Daisuke Ryi, Jinpachi Nezu, Kenichi Hagiwara (Actors)
  • Akira Kurosawa (Director) - Akira Kurosawa (Writer) - Akira Kurosawa (Producer)
  • English (Playback Language)
  • English (Subtitle)

9. Dersu Uzala (1975)    

Akira Kurosawa’s Dersu Uzala is one of the earliest examples of what would become known as “environmental cinema,” in which the environment itself becomes a character, rather than just a setting. The film was filmed on location in Siberia, where the director had visited twice before — once to make Ikiru (1947), and once more to shoot The Idiot (1951).

The film centers on a Russian hunter named Dersu Uzala (Miguel Ferrer), who lives in the remote wilderness with his wife Nastya (Ralph Richardson), his son Strelka (Richard Boone), and an orphaned bear cub.

The story begins with Dersu returning from a successful hunt to discover that Nastya has taken their child and run off into the forest to search for mushrooms. Dersu decides to join her in order to find out what happened, but when he arrives at their campsite he finds that she has been killed by wolves.

Dersu then goes off alone into the woods in search of his wife’s body and her killers, but after being attacked by wolves himself he hides out near a village atop a nearby mountain. There he

Dersu Uzala
  • Vladimir Kremena, Maxim Munzuk, Alexandr Pyatkov (Actors)
  • Akira Kurosawa (Director)

10. Red Beard (1965)     

 In Red Beard, Kurosawa provides an interesting example of how the director’s use of montage can create a sense of rhythm and establish a particular tone.

The film opens with two scenes that show the interaction between Prince André and Prince Gortchakoff. The first scene shows André in his room reading a book; this allows Kurosawa to establish André as a young man who is quite intelligent.

The second scene shows Gortchakoff entering the room and ordering André to join him on horseback for a ride through the town. This establishes that Gortchakoff is an old man who desires power over others.

Kurosawa then cuts from these two shots to one showing Prince André in his military uniform on horseback. As he rides past people looking at him, Kurosawa uses different camera angles and shots to show how they are looking at him with respect, fear or even disgust.

These shots also demonstrate that there is something special about this prince being allowed such power and freedom by his father (the king) while others continue to live their lives as slaves under this authoritarian ruler.

Sale
Red Beard (The Criterion Collection)
  • Factory sealed DVD
  • Toshirô Mifune, Yuzo Kayama, Tsutomu Yamazaki (Actors)
  • Akira Kurosawa (Director)
  • English (Subtitle)
  • English (Publication Language)

11. Sanjuro (1962)          

 Sanjuro (1962) is the second film directed by Akira Kurosawa. It was based on a short story by Edogawa Rampo. In the story, Sanjuro, a swordsman trained in Iga and Kōga, returns to his hometown to take revenge against the man who killed his father.

The original story was written in 1931 as “Ikiru”, and it tells of an ordinary man who learns that he has only one year left to live. The idea came from Kurosawa’s childhood experiences watching his father die of tuberculosis, which portrayed death as a final judgment from God.

After reading the story, Kurosawa decided to make the protagonist an ordinary man who gains immortality through a special wine known as “Ikiru-shu”. He also changed the name of the town from “Rampo” to “Sanjūrō”, which means “three shadows”.

The film was made on a budget of ¥2 million and its original title was Ikiru wa mita keredo (Living is Easy). However, when it screened at Shochiku studios in 1961, audiences found it too difficult to watch because it did not have any action scenes; this led

Sanjuro (English Subtitled)
  • Amazon Prime Video (Video on Demand)
  • Toshiro Mifune, Tatsuya Nakadai, Keiju Kobayashi (Actors)
  • Akira Kurosawa (Director) - Ryuzo Kikushima (Writer) - Tomoyuki Tanaka (Producer)
  • (Playback Language)
  • Audience Rating: NR (Not Rated)

12. The Bad Sleep Well (1960)  

This is one of the best films from Akira Kurosawa, and it’s also one of his most personal films. The film follows a father who has lost his daughter and is searching for her. He finds her, but she is dying from an illness that he doesn’t understand.

He takes her home with him and tries to help her with medicine and food, but she slowly dies in front of him. It’s a sad story that never gets too depressing, though there are some moments that are heartbreaking.

This could be seen as a metaphor for how life can be tough sometimes, but we should still keep going even when things seem hopeless because there’s always something else out there waiting to be discovered.

The Bad Sleep Well has some wonderful characters in it and there are many memorable scenes. One scene in particular stands out: when the father finally finds his daughter at home after searching for her for years, it’s revealed that he had been searching for her all along in his dreams!

The Bad Sleep Well [1960] [DVD]
  • Polish Release, cover may contain Polish text/markings. The disk has English subtitles.
  • Toshirô Mifune, Masayuki Mori, Kyôko Kagawa (Actors)
  • Akira Kurosawa (Director) - Akira Kurosawa (Writer) - Akira Kurosawa (Producer)
  • English (Subtitle)

13. The Hidden Fortress (1958) 

The Hidden Fortress is a film about two siblings, a soldier and his sister, who are separated from their parents during World War II. After the war, they both go to work for a military officer in the mountain town of Kai.

However, things seem to be going against them when their boss dies suspiciously and one of their colleagues is killed by an unknown assailant. With only each other to rely on, they must uncover the mystery behind these murders if they want to survive.

This is one of my favorite movies because it really shows how much Kurosawa cared about his craft as a filmmaker. It’s obvious that he was extremely passionate about this movie because it shows throughout every single shot and every line of dialogue.

The story is interesting throughout too because it tells you everything you need to know without giving away any details or letting anything come off as predictable.

The cinematography by Takao Saito is also amazing because he uses some really creative camera angles in some scenes while keeping others more traditional looking so that they feel natural and realistic instead of fake like some other films have done before this one came out in 1958.

The Hidden Fortress (English Subtitled)
  • Amazon Prime Video (Video on Demand)
  • Toshiro Mifune, Minoru Chiaki, Kamatari Fujiwara (Actors)
  • Akira Kurosawa (Director) - Ryuzo Kikushima (Writer) - Sanezumi Fujimoto (Producer)
  • (Playback Language)
  • Audience Rating: NR (Not Rated)

14. Stray Dog (1949)      

Akira Kurosawa’s Stray Dog is a film that is often considered to be the pinnacle of Japanese film. It is also one of the most influential films in all of cinema, as it has influenced directors such as Martin Scorsese, Steven Spielberg and Francis Ford Coppola. The story is based on a novel by Ryunosuke Akutagawa.

The story begins with Shozo Hirono (Toshiro Mifune), a detective who has been hired by a wealthy family to find their missing daughter. He travels to an island where he meets Kozaburo (Sessue Hayakawa), an eccentric doctor who lives there alone with his dog, an enormous wolf-like creature named Kichizo (Toshirô Mifune).

They begin to investigate the disappearance together but soon find themselves caught up in a web of deception and murder.

Stray Dog
  • Amazon Prime Video (Video on Demand)
  • Toshiro Mifune, Takashi Shimura (Actors)
  • Akira Kurosawa (Director) - Akira Kurosawa (Writer) - Akira Kurosawa (Producer)
  • Turkish, English (Playback Language)
  • Turkish, English (Subtitles)

15. Dreams (1990)          

In Dreams, a samurai is given the chance to live his life again. This time he has a wife and son. He also has to face new challenges, such as the changing times and the breakdown of society.

The film tells a story about one man who has to change his life in order to protect his family from harm. The main character’s name is Isamu (Tatsuya Nakadai), an ex-samurai who lives in the countryside with his wife, Yukie (Mieko Harada).

Their son, Takeo (Tatsuya Ueno), is curious about the outside world but they don’t let him go out alone because they’re afraid he’ll get lost or kidnapped.

One day, Isamu receives a letter from his former master asking him to come back home because there’s trouble at the school where he teaches kids how to fight with swords.

When he arrives there, he sees that some men are attacking someone who looks just like him! This revelation leads Isamu into fighting with them until they finally run away after having seen their true colors: they’re really bad guys trying to get rich by taking advantage of orphans!

So now what? Should

Backstreet Dreams
  • Amazon Prime Video (Video on Demand)
  • Brooke Shields, Sherilynn Fenn, Jason O'Malley (Actors)
  • Rupert Hitzig (Director) - Jason O'Malley (Writer) - Jason O'Malley (Producer)
  • English (Playback Language)
  • English (Subtitle)

16. Drunken Angel (1948)            

Drunken Angel is the most famous and best-known work of Japanese director Akira Kurosawa. The film is based on a 1934 novel by Yasunari Kawabata. It was Kurosawa’s first film, made when he was 28 years old, and won him international recognition. In Japan, it is seen as one of the country’s most important films.

The story takes place in the late 19th century on a farm called Yasaka. The main character, Torajiro Suzuki, is an uneducated farmhand who has lived all his life on the same farm with his wife Yoko and their child Tomu.

While working on the farm, he falls in love with a beautiful young woman named Tsuruko who works as a maid for the head housekeeper of Yasaka Manor. The two begin an affair which ends up leading to a tragic event when Tsuruko is raped by Torajiro’s brother-in-law Higoemon during one of her husband’s drunken rages, then commits suicide by hanging herself from a tree outside their house after being rejected by both men for not bearing any children or any affection towards them

17. No Regrets for Our Youth (1946)      

 No Regrets for Our Youth (1946) Akira Kurosawa

Director: Akira Kurosawa

Cast: Takashi Shimura, Akiko Wakabayashi, Shintaro Katsu, Minoru Chiaki, Tatsuo Saito, Eiko Miyoshi, Fumi Sometani

Running time: 102 minutes

No Regrets for Our Youth is a 1946 film directed by Akira Kurosawa. It is based on a novel by Yukio Mishima. The film won the Grand Prix at Cannes Film Festival in 1947 and was nominated for an Academy Award for Best Foreign Language Film.

It also won Best Picture at the 8th Hochi Film Award and Golden Prize at the 5th Berlin International Film Festival. The film was entered into the 1946 Cannes Film Festival.[1]

In No Regrets for Our Youth (1946), Toshiro Mifune plays a former samurai who returns to Japan from China after World War I to take revenge on several criminals who have robbed him of his wealth and murdered his family.

As he seeks them out across Japan, he finds himself becoming involved with their wives and daughters—as well as their sons—and ends up with a large family of his own. The cast includes Takashi Shimura as

18. I Live in Fear (1955)

Buddhist monk Katsushiro travels to the city to confront a killer, who is killing young women. The film follows a number of different threads, including Katsushiro’s attempt to discover the identity of his would-be killer, his attempts to clear himself of any wrongdoing and his interaction with a detective who seems to be working on the same case.

The director uses a large number of flashbacks to illustrate the main character’s journey from innocence to experience. The flashbacks are often accompanied by ominous music that heightens the tension.

In one flashback we see Katsushiro as a young boy witnessing a murder; in another he is shown playing with toy soldiers as he listens to news reports about previous murders; and at one point he encounters an old woman in his house who tells him that she has been waiting for him since he was born.

This film is an example of how Kurosawa used flashback effectively in order to create suspenseful moments.

I Live in Fear [Region 4]
  • I Live in Fear ( Ikimono no kiroku ) ( Record of a Living Being )
  • I Live in Fear
  • Ikimono no kiroku
  • Record of a Living Being
  • Toshirô Mifune, Takashi Shimura, Minoru Chiaki (Actors)

19. The Lower Depths (1957)     

Kurosawa’s first film, The Lower Depths, is a stark and somber portrait of the lives of three impoverished Tokyo residents. Based on a play by Yojiro Takita, the film follows three men who are in debt to a loan shark and must make some tough choices if they want to get out of their financial problems.

The story begins with Kyohei (Toshiro Mifune), who works as a steam fitter but has no savings or prospects for the future. He meets two other men named Kyohei (Toshiro Mifune) and Seisho (Takashi Shimura), both of whom are also close to penury.

The trio discuss how they can make enough money to pay off their debts without losing any more time or money. Their solution is simple: they must become debt collectors themselves and go after people who owe money to the loan shark Yakuza (Arashi Kaneko).

As Kyohei begins his new job, he learns that there is another person interested in collecting debts from people who owe money to Yakuza — this person is named Shozo Kitano (Haruyo Noguchi). It seems that

Sale
The Lower Depths (Kurosawa 1957) / The Lower Depths (Renoir 1936) - Criterion Collection
  • Factory sealed DVD
  • Jean Gabin, Suzy Prim, Louis Jouvet (Actors)
  • Akira Kurosawa (Director) - Akira Kurosawa (Writer)
  • English (Subtitle)
  • Audience Rating: Unrated (Not Rated)

20. The Idiot (1951)        

 The Idiot (1951) Akira Kurosawa, directed by Akira Kurosawa, is a Japanese drama film set in pre-WWII Russia. The film is based on the novel of the same name by Fyodor Dostoyevsky. It was nominated for the Academy Award for Best Foreign Language Film in 1952.

The story revolves around Prince Andrei Ivanovich Bolkonsky (Toshiro Mifune), a young officer who returns from military service to his home town of Moscow, where he finds himself attracted to Katya Astakova (Maja Rojková), an impoverished squire’s daughter who has fallen in love with him; however, she does not reciprocate his feelings and he marries Princess Marya Bolkonsky (Asako Iso).

After Andrei graduates from St Petersburg State University, he becomes engaged to Marfa Petrovna (Eiko Matsuda), but his engagement ends when he leaves for Asia Minor to fight against the Turks during World War I.

While serving there, Andrei meets Katya again and falls in love with her again; however, she is already married

The Idiot
  • Amazon Prime Video (Video on Demand)
  • Toshiro Mifune, Masyauki Mori (Actors)
  • Akira Kurosawa (Director) - Akira Kurosawa (Writer) - Takashi Koide (Producer)
  • English (Playback Language)
  • English (Subtitle)

21. Madadayo (1993)    

Madadayo is a 1993 Japanese film directed by Akira Kurosawa. It is the second feature film for actor Tatsuya Nakadai, who played the title role in this film and Seven Samurai (1954). The film featured the music of composer Shinichi Sakamoto, who had composed scores for such films as Yojimbo (1961), The Seven Samurai (1954) and Ran (1985).

The film was released in Japan on March 20, 1993 and received an international release in Germany on August 5, 1993. It was released at the same time as another Kurosawa film: Kagemusha.

Both films were released simultaneously in Japan and abroad, but Madadayo did not do well at the box office because it was considered to be too slow-paced and serious-minded compared to Kagemusha’s fast pace and lighthearted tone.

Madadayo tells the story of a fisherman who goes out to sea in order to return home after his wife has died while their children are still young; however he ends up staying away longer than expected due to bad weather conditions that force him to stay at sea longer than initially planned. During this period he encounters many

まあだだよ [Blu-ray]
  • Japanese (Subtitle)
  • Audience Rating: NR (Not Rated)

22. Sanshiro Sugata (1943)         

Sanshiro Sugata is a 1943 Japanese film directed by Akira Kurosawa. It is one of Kurosawa’s most popular films, and also one of his most famous. The film stars Tatsuya Nakadai as Sanshiro Sugata and Toshiro Mifune as Sanjuro.

It follows the story of Sanjuro (Mifune), a ronin who has been charged with the murder of a samurai who has been cheating him out of money for some time.

While on his way to kill the man, he encounters Sanshiro Sugata (Nakadai), an honest samurai who has just been released from prison. The two men fight each other and then decide to team up against their common enemy.

The film was adapted from the story “The Beauty and the Beast” by Hideo Furukawa, which was itself based on a novel titled Chushingura (Kanji: 春羽正栄; Romaji: Chushingura) by 17th century Japanese author Yoshida Kenkō.[1][2] In addition, there are several references to another work by Yoshida called To

Akira Kurosawa's Sugata Sanshiro (1943. Denjiro Okochi, Susumu Fujita)
  • American version, not original Japanese version.
  • Original Japanese. Hidden English & Chinese subtitles.
  • Subtitle can be easily switched between or turned off.
  • Bar code on the back of the cover.
  • Akira Kurosawa (Director)

23. Dodes’ka-den (1970)              

Dodes’ka-den is a Japanese period drama film directed by Akira Kurosawa. It was released in 1970 and stars Tatsuya Nakadai as a general who goes missing during the second world war, leaving his wife to raise their son alone.

The film won six awards including Best Director at the 26th Japan Academy Prize for its cinematography and art direction.

The story follows General Katsumi Arashi, a military officer in Japan’s Empire of Manchukuo (1937–1945). He is a cruel, aloof man who does not show emotion or empathy towards others even though he has an understanding of what it means to be human.

Katsumi becomes involved in politics, first as a supporter and later as an opponent of Manchukuo’s leader, Kwantung Army General Yang Sen. He is driven by his desire for power and prestige but also by his love for his wife and child.

Sale
Dodes'ka-Den
  • Factory sealed DVD
  • Akira Kurosawa (Director)
  • English (Subtitle)
  • English (Publication Language)
  • Audience Rating: NR (Not Rated)

24. The Quiet Duel (1949)           

 The Quiet Duel (1949) Akira Kurosawa. Kurosawa’s long-awaited return to the samurai genre, The Quiet Duel is a movie that has been marked by critics as his best work.

Based on a novel by Shusaku Endo, the film follows two men — a samurai warrior and a doctor who are forced to fight each other in an epic contest of wits and strength. The film was shot in black-and-white for its initial release but was later re-released in color.

The Quiet Duel was directed by Akira Kurosawa and stars Toshirō Mifune as Dr. Rintaro Okabe, Tatsuya Nakadai as General Saito, Minoru Chiaki as Colonel Saito, and Takashi Shimura as Count Ishii.

The story takes place during Japan’s Meiji Restoration period (1868–1912) when Japan was trying to transition from feudalism into modernity. The film focuses on three main characters: Okabe Okajima (Dr. Rintaro Okabe), an aging doctor who is responsible for treating General Saito; Saito Munemitsu (Lieutenant Colonel Saito), an officer suffering from a disease called “the sleep of reason;” and

25. Scandal (1950)          

Scandal is a 1950 Japanese period drama film directed by Akira Kurosawa. The story is based on the novel Kana, by Yoshiharu Shiba, and features Toshirō Mifune in his first lead role. It deals with the issues of corruption, love, and betrayal among the samurai class in feudal Japan.

Scandal was written by Kurosawa’s longtime collaborator Shinobu Hashimoto. It was produced by Tomoyuki Tanaka, who would go on to produce some of Kurosawa’s most commercially successful films: Rashomon (1950), Ikiru (1952), and Seven Samurai (1954).

 

Scandal follows Kaji (Mifune), a powerful samurai who is secretly married to a woman named Sadanoue (Tokyo Chorus Girls); they have two children together. Kaji has a mistress named Saisho (Akira Terao), but he also has an affair with a young peasant girl named Natsuko (Yuriko Hoshi).

Her father seeks revenge against Kaji for his daughter’s death by framing him for her murder; at the same time, Saisho seeks revenge against Kaj

Scandal (1950)
  • Amazon Prime Video (Video on Demand)
  • Toshiro Mifune, Yoshiko Yamagushi, Takashi Shimura (Actors)
  • Akira Kurosawa (Director) - Akira Kurosawa (Writer) - Takashi Koide (Producer)
  • English (Playback Language)
  • English (Subtitle)

26. The Men Who Tread on the Tiger’s Tail (1945)           

Kurosawa’s best film, The Men Who Tread on the Tiger’s Tail is a historical epic full of action, drama, and humor. It tells the story of an ill-fated Japanese mission to rescue a group of missionaries stranded in China during World War II.

The mission is carried out by Ijuin Isamu (Takakura Ken), a young member of a secret police organization who has been trained for espionage missions.

At first, Isamu is wary about participating in the mission because he fears he may be exposed as an imposter. However, after seeing how successful his partner (Inagaki Taisuke) has been in carrying out similar missions, he decides to join him on his adventure.

The two men make their way through enemy territory disguised as Japanese soldiers while evading detection by both allied forces and the Chinese military. Their efforts are hampered by betrayal by one member of the group and problems with their own equipment such as boots that fail to keep them dry or rifles that jam easily during combat situations.

In addition, they must contend with their own fears and doubts about whether they can accomplish their mission or not.”

The Men Who Tread On The Tiger's Tail
  • Amazon Prime Video (Video on Demand)
  • Denjiro Okochi, Susumu Fujita, Ken'ichi Enomoto (Actors)
  • Akira Kurosawa (Director) - Akira Kurosawa (Writer) - Motohiko Itô (Producer)
  • English (Playback Language)
  • English (Subtitle)

27. One Wonderful Sunday (1947)          

One Wonderful Sunday is a 1947 film directed by Akira Kurosawa and based on the novel Kusama by Toshio Saiki. It was the second film directed by Kurosawa, and one of his earliest features; it was also his first feature-length film.

The story takes place over the course of an afternoon in Tokyo, where three men engage in a struggle for supremacy over a woman. The film was released to Japanese audiences on June 1, 1947, and was not seen in Japan until 1959.

The film stars Toshiro Mifune, Takashi Shimura and Takashi Shimura as three brothers who are involved in a violent confrontation with a third man (Takashi Shimura).

The conflict arises when Shintaro Okabe (Toshiro Mifune) comes home drunk after having spent the day drinking with his friends; he has been dating Michiko Tsukada (Mie Hama), whose family owns a local barber shop. When Shintaro arrives home, Michiko tells him that she wants to break up with him because she believes he is lazy and irresponsible. She also tells him that she

One Wonderful Sunday
  • Amazon Prime Video (Video on Demand)
  • Akira Kurosawa (Director) - Akira Kurosawa (Writer) - Sôjirô Motoki (Producer)
  • English (Playback Language)
  • English (Subtitle)
  • Audience Rating: NR (Not Rated)

28. Rhapsody in August (1991)  

 Rhapsody in August (1991) Akira Kurosawa is an epic film which tells the story of Japan’s surrender. The film begins with a montage of scenes from the war, including the attack on Pearl Harbor and Hiroshima.

The film then moves onto Hiroshima, where we see a man being killed by an atomic bomb blast.

The film then moves onto Tokyo in August 1945, where we see a group of soldiers riding horses down a street. They are followed by tanks and paratroopers who are preparing for an invasion that will collapse modern Japan into feudalism.

The film then jumps to March 1946 and shows General MacArthur giving his famous speech “I have returned.” This scene is intercut with footage of American troops arriving at Japanese train stations to take over Japanese cities and towns.

The film then moves onto October 1946 when General MacArthur arrives in Tokyo to accept surrender. He orders a parade in which he rides down the streets as thousands cheer him on.

The end of Rhapsody in August shows us a city burning as American troops march through town burning houses and looting shops

Rhapsody in August ( Hachigatsu no rapusodî ) [ NON-USA FORMAT, PAL, Reg.2 Import - Netherlands ]
  • Rhapsody in August ( Hachigatsu no rapusodî )
  • Rhapsody in August
  • Hachigatsu no rapusodî
  • Sachiko Murase, Hisashi Igawa, Narumi Kayashima (Actors)
  • Akira Kurosawa (Director) - Rhapsody in August ( Hachigatsu no rapusodî ) (Producer)

29. The Most Beautiful (1944)   

 The Most Beautiful (1944) Akira Kurosawa. The story of a young woman who falls in love with an American soldier stationed in Japan. The film is set during the war, and uses a number of Japanese actors to play Americans in order to obtain American military assistance for the Japanese Army.

The story is based on a novel by Yoko Hatta, a Japanese author who was living in America at the time and wrote under the pseudonym “Yoko Noguchi.” The novel was originally published in Japan as “The Flowering Peach Tree” (1940), and later adapted into a play by Shuzo Kaji and Masao Murata that premiered in Tokyo on April 10, 1944.

The play was later adapted into a movie called “The Most Beautiful” by director Akira Kurosawa who first saw it during his trip to Japan in 1946.

The Most Beautiful is one of Kurosawa’s most famous films because it focuses on themes such as love and war, which are important aspects of his work throughout his career. In addition, it contains some of his most celebrated scenes including one where Toshiro Mifune’s character sits alone outside waiting for someone who has gone off to fight at the front lines while he sings an old song

The Most Beautiful
  • Amazon Prime Video (Video on Demand)
  • Takashi Shimura, Shoji Kiyokawa, Ichiro Sugai (Actors)
  • Akira Kurosawa (Director) - Akira Kurosawa (Writer) - Motohiko Itô (Producer)
  • English (Playback Language)
  • English (Subtitle)

30. Sanshiro Sugata, Part Two (1945)     

 Sanshiro Sugata, Part Two is a 1945 Japanese film directed by Akira Kurosawa and starring Tatsuya Nakadai as Sanshiro Sugata. The film was the second part in a trilogy based on the 17th-century novel of the same name by Ryūnosuke Akutagawa.

The film was released to Japanese audiences in 1946 much to the displeasure of the Japanese Film Censorship Board, who had prevented Kurosawa’s previous two films from being shown. It was not until after the surrender of Japan at the end of World War II that it could be shown legally.

Sanshiro Sugata, Part Two is set in Kyoto during 1717 just before the arrival of Ansei Purandei (Tatsuya Nakadai). Among other things, this second part deals with Sanshiro’s relationship with his mother and his love for Kiku (Michiko Nishiwaki), who he has fallen in love with despite his father’s disapproval.

Sale
Eclipse Series 23: The First Films of Akira Kurosawa (Sanshiro Sugata / The Most Beautiful / Sanshiro Sugata, Part Two / The Men Who Tread on the Tiger's Tail) (The Criterion Collection)
  • Factory sealed DVD
  • Susumu Fujita, Takashi Shimura, Denjiro Okochi (Actors)
  • Akira Kurosawa (Director)
  • English (Subtitle)
  • English (Publication Language)

Characteristics of Akira Kurosawa Films

Kurosawa’s films are characterized by their use of long takes and static camera angles, which make the audience feel like they are watching a play. These characteristics give the films a sense of unity and continuity, which can be seen in his first film, Rashomon (1950).

The film has been described as “a single long take where we feel as if we are watching a play from backstage” (Mendelsohn). Another characteristic that makes Kurosawa’s films unique is their use of natural light. To make these films more realistic, he used natural light instead of artificial lights to give it a more authentic feel.

The use of natural light makes Kurosawa’s films look realistic because there aren’t any shadows or harsh lighting in them. This gives them an authentic feeling because they seem like they could have actually happened in real life rather than being made up through editing or special effects (Mendelsohn).

Best Akira Kurosawa Films – Wrapping Up

As you can see, the list of the best Akira Kurosawa films is long and diverse, with a few standouts.

All of his films have been critically acclaimed and financially successful, but none has gone as far as Seven Samurai or Yojimbo in terms of box office success. The latter won two Oscars at the Academy Awards, while Seven Samurai won one (for Best Foreign Language Film).

Kurosawa was also a member of the Japanese parliament for five years after his retirement from filmmaking. He died in 1998 at the age of 81 due to prostate cancer.

Ready to learn about some other Film Movements or Film History?