In early classics shown in this series such as Ikiru, Hidden Fortress (the inspiration for Star Wars: A New Hope), High and Low, and the samurai comedies Yojimbo and Sanjuro, you can witness how Kurosawa uses the iconic Mifune and other actors in character-driven stories that are complexly plotted and highly watchable pleasures. His most famous early films, Rashomon and The Seven Samurai, are staples of cinematic studies, the latter copied in the American western The Magnificent Seven. (Director John Ford in turn was Kurosawa's idol). It's too bad the series does not include The Bad Sleep Well, a dark modern tale of white-collar crime, or any of his later films like Dersu Uzala, Kagemusha, and Ran, in which the landscape itself becomes a major character.
Though Kurosawa has tackled more Shakespeare, Mifune, and the land itself in other films, nothing beats the sight of his star lacerated with arrows yet fighting on against all odds. The films are at Lorch Hall every Friday through November 12. Throne of Blood will be shown October 15. No bows will be allowed into the theater.
[Originally published in October, 2010.]