Akira Kurosawa,

Akira Kurosawa’s Japan

There’s this old South Park episode, it’s called “Lice Capades.” It’s about a student at South Park Elementary who has lice. Throughout this episode, you follow a family of lice on their epic journey trying to survive the student’s attempt to clean his scalp and kill off the colony. It’s quite interesting and rather creative. It conveys the fragility of life and serves as a reminder of the cruelty of the things we cannot control-the enormous power of nature. As I was attempting to calibrate the magnitude of the devastation in Japan, I recalled that specific South Park episode in addition to the work of renowned Japanese film director, Akira Kurosawa.








Akira Kurosawa is regarded as one of the most important and highly influential film makers in the history of cinema. In 1990, he was honored at the Academy Awards, recognized for Lifetime Achievement for creating over 30 films in a career that lasted over 57 years. Posthumously, AsianWeek magazine named him “Asian of the Century in Arts, Literature, and Culture.” CNN cites him as “one of the people who contributed most to the betterment of Asia in the past 100 years.” Kurosawa’s magnum opus, “Seven Samurai,” was written and directed in 1954 and is heralded as one of the “greatest and most influential films ever made.”

Although, perhaps, Kurosawa won’t be remembered for his rugged realism or dramatic sense of film direction as seen in “Seven Samurai,” “Ikiru,” or “Yojimbo.” But rather for being a satirist who’s work was blithely disguised. With the current state of Japan regarding Fukushima and the fear of a nuclear meltdown, perhaps considering the work of Kurosawa has never been more apropos. The rather frightful parallel between the present situation in Japan and that of his film Mount Fuji in Red, Akira Kurosawa’s Dreams-a film in which six nuclear reactors explode conveys the effects of mankind’s influence.


Let’s hope this clip remains fiction.

Akira Kurosawa would have been 101 years old last March 23; one can’t help but wonder what he would think of the nuclear problem that Japan is facing today.

On March 28th, BFI released an Early Kurosawa HD box set.


-johnny o.

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