Akura Kurosawa is one of the more prolific directors of an era and his importance has a lot to do with his representation of the Japanese culture. He directed 30 movies in a career spanning 57 years, which might not seem like a lot at this point but was and still is pretty impressive for his era. In truth his movies make it even more impressive since he directed films that were so masterful that a lot of people still remember them fondly today. He also had a style that was not entirely on point with the Japanese culture but borrowed heavily from the Western influence and brought to his films a different feel that was neither fully Japanese but definitely not too American.
Kareem Abdul-Jabbar has been a rather interesting character in sports and in cinema throughout the years and his take on Kurosawa’s films is kind of interesting since he tends to bring up the one thing about Kurosawa’s films that makes them so interesting, the human condition. You might wonder what that means and what it has to do with the films that Kurosawa created, but in truth it has everything to do with it. The human condition encompasses the entire scope of this director’s movies and paints a vivid picture of the end of culture rather than the beginning or the middle.
For example, Yojimbo was in a way the ending of the samurai and all that they stood for. What had once been an honorable and upright society eventually fell into a chaotic scene in which every man was essentially out for himself or had become something that their former caste would have seen as highly dishonorable. Yojimbo was the samurai that remained, the one that was simply following the whims of his own fate and going wherever the wind took him. His desire to stay alive was such that he did what was necessary to survive whether it was honorable or not.
This is the perfect example of the human condition in Kurosawa’s movies, and it shows that humanity might very well value culture and cling to the ideals that they create, but in the end they will do what is necessary to survive and to keep moving forward. That is a big part of the human condition and one thing that Kurosawa knew how to incorporate into his films.
There is something special about what Kurosawa did for film and it has a lot to do with the fact that he was involved in just about every part of his movies and was able to effect every aspect in a way that allowed his films to come forward as something highly unique and unexpected. He didn’t really bow down to traditional film making and went full steam ahead with his own designs. Also, he had a way of bringing to life the storyboards that outlined his films in a way that was able to be translated almost down to the very minute details that he would describe and portray for each film. In a way he was one of the few directors that really knew how to bring a story to literal life.
A good director can be found in many parts of the world, but the great ones don’t come around that often.