Akira Kurosawa Names His 21 Favorite Art Films in the Criterion Collection

The high­ly auteur-respect­ing Cri­te­ri­on Col­lec­tion has, as you might expect, done quite well by the work of Aki­ra Kuro­sawa, direc­tor of RashomonSev­en Samu­raiIkiru, and Ran — to name just a few out of his many films in their cat­a­log. Giv­en all the time and atten­tion Cri­te­ri­on puts into not just the pic­tures them­selves but the wealth of sup­ple­men­tal mate­r­i­al that goes with them, you could poten­tial­ly become a Kuro­sawa expert from only what you can learn through Cri­te­ri­on releas­es. That includes an under­stand­ing of the 21 Cri­te­ri­on films that Kuro­sawa includ­ed on his list of favorite movies. Find them list­ed right below.

You’ll notice that Kuro­sawa’s Cri­te­ri­on selec­tions, a sub­set of his list of 100 favorite movies we fea­tured here on Open Cul­ture a few years ago, include more than just pic­tures to which he would have thrilled dur­ing his for­ma­tive years in Japan in the 1920s and 30s. In fact, it skews toward much more recent and inter­na­tion­al pro­duc­tions, right up to Paris, Texas (1984) by Ger­man New Wave star Wim Wen­ders, who once inter­viewed Kuro­sawa for a mag­a­zine. The younger film­mak­er asked the elder only tech­ni­cal ques­tions such as “ ‘Mr. Kuro­sawa, you let it rain real­ly beau­ti­ful­ly. How do you shoot it?” “To be hon­est,” Kuro­sawa admit­ted, “for me also such top­ics are more wel­come, and we dis­cussed it fur­ther. But the edi­tors were pret­ty embar­rassed.”

Through­out his long life and career, Kuro­sawa enjoyed oppor­tu­ni­ties to meet more than a few of the oth­er film­mak­ers whose work he admired as well. Last year we fea­tured the sto­ry of his first meet­ing with Andrei Tarkovsky, at a screen­ing of the lat­ter’s Solaris. “We were very good friends. He was like a lit­tle broth­er for me,” Kuro­sawa remem­bered, recall­ing in par­tic­u­lar one inci­dent when the two of them got drunk togeth­er and end­ed up singing the Sev­en Samu­rai theme. His oth­er Cri­te­ri­on selec­tions reveal a love for the work of oth­ers in what we might call the Tarkovsky class of late 20th-cen­tu­ry auteurs as well, from François Truf­faut and Jean-Luc Godard to Ing­mar Bergman and Michelan­ge­lo Anto­nioni.

At the top of the post you can watch the first film on Kuro­sawa’s Cri­te­ri­on list, Char­lie Chap­lin’s 1925 The Gold Rush, free online. (The ver­sion up top, we should note, is not the Cri­te­ri­on release itself. It’s anoth­er ver­sion.) “Chap­lin was very tal­ent­ed as an actor as well,” said Kuro­sawa. “Do you know, come­dies are most dif­fi­cult to make. It’s much eas­i­er to jerk tears from the audi­ence. He, of course, was gift­ed as a direc­tor as well, well-versed in music. I think he was so gift­ed that he him­self did­n’t know what he should do with his own tal­ents.” But Kuro­sawa, gift­ed as he was, could­n’t say the same of him­self, know­ing as he always did exact­ly what movie he want­ed to make next, even in peri­ods when he could­n’t shoot a sin­gle frame, work­ing right up until the end of his days. Even the title of his final film express­es that sen­si­bil­i­ty, one that sure­ly res­onates with every lover or mak­er of film who knows how much of cin­e­ma always remains to explore: Mada­dayo, or “Not yet!”

Relat­ed Con­tent:

Aki­ra Kurosawa’s List of His 100 Favorite Movies

When Aki­ra Kuro­sawa Watched Solaris with Andrei Tarkovsky: I Was “Very Hap­py to Find Myself Liv­ing on Earth”

Aki­ra Kuro­sawa to Ing­mar Bergman: “A Human Is Not Real­ly Capa­ble of Cre­at­ing Real­ly Good Works Until He Reach­es 80”

Watch Aki­ra Kuro­sawa & Fran­cis Ford Cop­po­la in Japan­ese Whiskey Ads from 1979: The Inspi­ra­tion for Lost in Trans­la­tion

Hayao Miyaza­ki Meets Aki­ra Kuro­sawa: Watch the Titans of Japan­ese Film in Con­ver­sa­tion (1993)

Aki­ra Kurosawa’s Advice to Aspir­ing Film­mak­ers: Write, Write, Write and Read

Based in Seoul, Col­in Mar­shall writes and broad­casts on cities and cul­ture. He’s at work on a book about Los Ange­les, A Los Ange­les Primer, the video series The City in Cin­e­ma, the crowd­fund­ed jour­nal­ism project Where Is the City of the Future?, and the Los Ange­les Review of Books’ Korea Blog. Fol­low him on Twit­ter at @colinmarshall or on Face­book.

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