Wednesday, 23 June 2010

Remember when I told you I would shut up about Kurosawa? I lied!

On Monday I said that my recent flurry of celebratory posts about the films of Akira Kurosawa would com to an end with that review of the incredible reissued print of 'Rashonmon'. Well, predictably I am banging on about Kurosawa again. This time to say that I am going back to the BFI Southbank tomorrow to see a rare wartime film of his which I know precious little about: 'They Who Step on the Tiger's Tail'. The earliest of Kurosawa's films I have seen to date is 1948's 'Drunken Angel' (his first film starring Toshiro Mifune and the film on which he felt he'd discovered himself as a filmmaker). Most of the films which came out after 'Drunken Angel' are readily available to buy on DVD in the UK and so out of his 30 films I have been lucky enough to see 20 to date. However 'They Who Step on the Tiger's Tail' will be the first of his 6 "early period" films which I will have seen. I'm really excited by this rare chance to see a film which is completely unavailable to buy in this country.

Amazingly, although the film was shot in 1945, it wasn't released until 1952 as it was banned by the American occupation (a fact Kurosawa attributed to a "mean-spirited" censor rather than the content of his film). I can't wait to see what all the fuss was about.

On a separate note (but still on the subject of Japanese cinema) I received a book in the post today by an American writer called Peter H. Brothers. He has written a comprehensive book in celebration of the overlooked godfather of the monster movie, Ishiro Honda (best known for the original 1954 'Godzilla'). The book is called 'Mushroom Clouds and Mushroom Men: The Fantastic Cinema of Ishiro Honda' and I can't wait to read it and review it here. Incidently, Honda was a good friend (and one-time assistant director) of a certain Kurosawa. In fact he is known to have directed huge parts of Kurosawa's 1990 film 'Dreams' and was ever-present on the set during his final films.

Here is the trailer to the fantastic 'Godzilla' which stars the great Takashi Shimura and is a much better film than the campy series that followed would lead you to think:

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