Ranking Kurosawa's Films

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I've only seen three (Rashomon, Throne of Blood, and Ran) so I can't really touch this topic, but I'd like to hear what anyone else has to say. How would you rank Kurosawa's best films?

Anthony (Anthony F), Monday, 7 July 2003 02:36 (twenty years ago) link

I suppose the unobvious and therefore original thing to do would be to not put Seven Samurai on top. Yojimbo might be a hipper choice, although maybe not since it's been so redone to death lately. Anyway...for me...of what I've seen...
The Seven Samurai
Throne of Blood
High and Low

(haven't seen Ikiru, or the Hidden Fortress, or Dodeskedan, or a bunch of others)

Basically, I think the Seven Samurai and Yojimbo are total complete undeniable classics, the two Shakespeare films rank with the best Shakespeare ever, High and Low and Kagemusha are good genre exercises, and Dreams has two really nice episodes that I can remember along with a lot of filler.

JesseFox (JesseFox), Tuesday, 8 July 2003 02:26 (twenty years ago) link

Oh, and Rashomon is pretty great, but it hasn't aged as well as the rest of his '50s stuff.

JesseFox (JesseFox), Tuesday, 8 July 2003 02:27 (twenty years ago) link

Have you seen Ikiru?

oops (Oops), Tuesday, 8 July 2003 04:09 (twenty years ago) link

Oh, and Rashomon is pretty great, but it hasn't aged as well as the rest of his '50s stuff.

Erm, what? Rashomon, if anything, is a timeless story. Wasn't there even an American remake a couple of years ago? Anyway, here's my ranking...

2)Red Beard
3)The Seven Samurai

Red Beard seems to be a forgotten gem, it's one of the most humane and heartfelt films I've ever seen.

Tuomas (Tuomas), Tuesday, 8 July 2003 08:05 (twenty years ago) link

I like Rashomon -- love parts of it, especially when the ghost comes along -- but it's a little mannered and gimmicky. I guess I was a little disappointed when I saw it, having already seen several of his other films. The moral is a little too club-you-over-the-head for me. A classic, no doubt, just not one of my personal favorites.

JesseFox (JesseFox), Wednesday, 9 July 2003 17:49 (twenty years ago) link

Is it just me what thinks that Rashomon's acting was offputting?

Leee (Leee), Wednesday, 9 July 2003 21:27 (twenty years ago) link

You mean everyone being hysterical all the time? Kind of annoying, yes.

Sommermute (Wintermute), Wednesday, 9 July 2003 21:48 (twenty years ago) link

A lot of people are annoyed or put off by the acting, but I think mainly that's because it seems foreign to those of us outside of Japan. They have a much different acting style. Also, it seems the characters are purposely over the top. If you notice, each character's recollection is told in a way that fits their personality, which is the same for their acting style, ex. the wife being melodramatic, the thief being macho and aggressive.

Anthony (Anthony F), Thursday, 10 July 2003 03:57 (twenty years ago) link

Anthony's right, on both points.

Tuomas (Tuomas), Thursday, 10 July 2003 08:02 (twenty years ago) link

After you've watched a lot of Japanese films, you get used to the acting style. It's kinda interesting, actually, because it differs so much from Anglo-Saxon acting, and also from the stereotypical Japanese mode of behaviour (calm and mannered). I guess Kabuki and Noh have a lot to do with it.

Tuomas (Tuomas), Thursday, 10 July 2003 08:06 (twenty years ago) link

Ozu = Noh, Mizoguchi = Kabuki, Kurosawa = um, Elizabethan tragedy? (disclaimer: may not be close to true)

I have a soft spot for Throne of Blood. It takes ages to get going (though you could argue this is typical for him), and it seems dull, but all the while he's gradually adding to the set-up. Then in the last 15 minutes or so you get the hand-washing into the walking forest into the death scene, all executed more crisply, if more prosaically, than in Shakespeare. Three of Kurosawa's four greatest moments (though Mifune raising the banner in Seven Samurai may be the greatest of them all) means best Japanese film before Princess Mononoke.

b.R.A.d. (Brad), Thursday, 10 July 2003 10:28 (twenty years ago) link

But IIRC in Ran, the acting on almost all fronts is more stylistically western, yes? I'm thinking in particular of Lady Kaede (best char ev), a tremendously potent character by virtue of being reserved. Of course, that's a 30-some year gap in b/w Ran and Rashomon, so does changing style wipe away this observation?

Leee (Leee), Friday, 11 July 2003 21:14 (twenty years ago) link

two years pass...
Yojimbo isn't actually all that good, is it.

Casuistry (Chris P), Saturday, 17 September 2005 02:39 (eighteen years ago) link

it's not my favorite, no. i like leone's version better.

J.D. (Justyn Dillingham), Saturday, 17 September 2005 04:10 (eighteen years ago) link

It's like if you took Seven Samurai and took out everything interesting. But maybe left in Mifune. And gave him lice. And the lice were the best thing in the movie.

Casuistry (Chris P), Saturday, 17 September 2005 16:03 (eighteen years ago) link

I don't like Yojimbo that much either. A Fistful of Dollars neither. I do like the book, Red Harvest, but they never made it directly into a film. I guess The Glass Key is the closest thing. I'll take that.

k/l (Ken L), Saturday, 17 September 2005 23:33 (eighteen years ago) link

two years pass...

I wonder sometimes why this board is so dead, but then I look above and see three people actually maligning Yojimbo. Amazing.

I just saw one of his lesser known/praised films, The Bad Sleep Well (1960). Kurosawa made it right before Yojimbo - it was the first movie to come out of his own indepedent studio. It's pretty good - a loose remaking of Hamlet to attack government and corporate corruption in modern postwar Japan. Kind of similar to what he did with High and Low Anyone else see it?

Also I am interested in seeing more of his movies, but there's a LOT to choose from. Especially from the '40s. He hasn't disappointed me yet, though. What do you think are the best ones (outside of Yojimbo, Seven Samurai, and Throne of Blood)?

Nhex, Sunday, 14 September 2008 05:10 (fifteen years ago) link

I'd rate Ikiru highly. The story, one man pushing for his small community improvement in his last days, lingers in the memory.

Bought a 2 volume pirated set off eBay, which I now see is selling as 20 DVDs for 17 films. Eventually, will get around to seeing the ones (Red Blood, Throne of Blood) I haven't watched yet. Warning, though - the auction says the versions are legit, but Rashomon looks like it was filmed off a projection.

scampering alpaca, Monday, 15 September 2008 17:55 (fifteen years ago) link

Cool, I'll probably check out Ikiru and maybe Stray Dog sometime soon.

Nhex, Wednesday, 17 September 2008 21:25 (fifteen years ago) link

here's how i'd rank what i've seen. I can remember one incredible shot from The Bad Sleep Well (headlights illuminating an actor on a darkened street) but otherwise it's rather slow and uninspired, especially given the source material. The Stray Dog plot is promising (inspiration for John C. Reilly's cop in Magnolia??) but otherwise insignificant. it's been a few years, however.

High and Low
Throne of Blood
Seven Samurai

Stray Dog
The Bad Sleep Well

i need to see Ran, Hidden Fortress and Rashomon (and everything, really), but i'm most interested in Red Beard. it's one of Bill Murray's favorite movies.

poortheatre, Friday, 19 September 2008 21:09 (fifteen years ago) link

re: Throne of Blood, I don't think I've seen a better Shakespeare film.

poortheatre, Friday, 19 September 2008 21:11 (fifteen years ago) link

High and Low (thinks the audience is a bunch of idiots, e.g. not only showing the family's house on the top of the hill, but also having characters mention it and then opining on how it could cause people to dislike them. still, the caper stuff in enthralling.)
The Hidden Fortress

Rashômon (only ruined by the ending, where the main character says "everyone is a liar!" like that's supposed to be the message)
The Bad Sleep Well (turns hamlet into a straight revenge fantasy; the ending anticipates hollywood's current "corporations are omnipotent evil" schlock)
Red Beard (zzzz)
Kagemusha (some interesting scenes, but it overcompensates against kurosawa's usual stating of the obvious by not having any point at all)
Ikiru (oprah book club)

barely remember: Throne of Blood, Ran, Seven Samurai

abanana, Saturday, 20 September 2008 03:17 (fifteen years ago) link

two weeks pass...

"Rashômon (only ruined by the ending, where the main character says "everyone is a liar!" like that's supposed to be the message)"

That's not the message?

Philip Nunez, Wednesday, 8 October 2008 19:29 (fifteen years ago) link

one year passes...

Stray Dog is good, but I don't find it great, except for the last faceoff btwn Mifune and the killer, with a post-orgasmic tableau.

Rage, Resentment, Spleen (Dr Morbius), Friday, 15 January 2010 20:29 (fourteen years ago) link

two months pass...

Today is his centennial.

Fusty Moralizer (Dr Morbius), Tuesday, 23 March 2010 12:03 (fourteen years ago) link

three months pass...

just watched red beard. this opening line from someone's netflix review is pretty classic:

Red Beard teaches us that even samurai need health care reform.

original bgm, Monday, 12 July 2010 19:55 (thirteen years ago) link

I love Red Beard. It's my favorite Kurosawa, snd way more gripping than any plot summary makes it sound. Whoever said "zzzz" upthread... ????

Cherish, Wednesday, 14 July 2010 16:37 (thirteen years ago) link

1. dodeskaden

2. don't like at all

moullet, Wednesday, 14 July 2010 16:39 (thirteen years ago) link

three weeks pass...

i live in fear
the bad sleep well
hidden fortress
stray dog
seven samurai
throne of blood

la russe, Monday, 9 August 2010 02:54 (thirteen years ago) link

the 12 I've seen...

1. Seven Samurai
2. Ran
3. Dersu Uzala
4. Yojimbo
5. Dreams
6. Ikiru
7. Rashomon
8. Kagemusha
9. Rhapsody in August
10. The Hidden Fortress
11. High and Low
12. Sanjuro

Matt Armstrong, Thursday, 12 August 2010 07:34 (thirteen years ago) link

kurosawa fest at pacific film archive in berkeley this summer is killing it. saw high and low last week... definitely seeing kagemusha and madadayo... i should probably go for ran as well. love this man.

hobbes, Thursday, 12 August 2010 07:44 (thirteen years ago) link

bummed i missed ikiru.. good screen at pfa

hobbes, Thursday, 12 August 2010 07:44 (thirteen years ago) link

wish i had $$$ to see every film at this fest, tbh

hobbes, Thursday, 12 August 2010 07:45 (thirteen years ago) link

How many films are they showing? It's coming to my town in the fall.

Your cousin, Marvin Cobain (C. Grisso/McCain), Thursday, 12 August 2010 19:53 (thirteen years ago) link

Haven't seen them all but The Bad Sleep Well and Throne of Blood would be high in all-time film lists. Throne of Blood possibly top three.

Hide the prickforks (GamalielRatsey), Thursday, 12 August 2010 20:15 (thirteen years ago) link

four months pass...

Just got done w/Madadayo and am very pleased. A terrific last effort, maybe one of the best swan songs ever.

Your cousin, Marvin Cobain (C. Grisso/McCain), Monday, 10 January 2011 04:03 (thirteen years ago) link

three months pass...

I've a choice between Red Beard and Dersu Uzala. Which one and why?

Hey Look More Than Five Years Has Passed And You Have A C (Alfred, Lord Sotosyn), Thursday, 14 April 2011 12:49 (thirteen years ago) link

two years pass...


also, two years late, but i'd go with red beard y because more nudity

four months pass...

how's I Live in Fear?

guess that bundt gettin eaten (Alfred, Lord Sotosyn), Tuesday, 6 May 2014 18:18 (ten years ago) link

I would say it's unforgettable, except I don't recall if I've seen it. Yes if it's the one where Mifune plays much older than he was.

images of war violence and historical smoking (Dr Morbius), Tuesday, 6 May 2014 20:07 (ten years ago) link

It is. I got the one starring Setsuko Hara instead.

guess that bundt gettin eaten (Alfred, Lord Sotosyn), Tuesday, 6 May 2014 20:52 (ten years ago) link

I wasn't bowled over but it's worth seeing for Mifune acting totally wracked and frazzled for 2 hours. I feel it has a lot to say about life,death,society and all that but I'm not intellectually equipped to totally get it.

brimstead, Wednesday, 7 May 2014 18:40 (ten years ago) link

two months pass...

Akira Kurosawa's seminal classic Seven Samurai gets the remake treatment with this modern retelling from The Weinstein Co. Scott Mann directs from a script by John Fusco.

Probably be as shit as the awful Tarkovsky remake with Clonney and it will be 90 mins of linear storytelling with five samurai if Harvey is involved.

xelab, Sunday, 27 July 2014 22:15 (nine years ago) link

That remake was pretty good, actually

Hiriam (Come And Take Me) (James Redd and the Blecchs), Sunday, 27 July 2014 22:22 (nine years ago) link

I fucking hated it tbh, eradicating all the mystery and beauty of the original and bringing in a very typically smug GC perfomance didn't work for me. I can't see this Kurosawa raping debacle being anything less than mediocre shit as well.

xelab, Monday, 28 July 2014 23:02 (nine years ago) link

i didn't like the solaris remake but it could have been interesting, maybe. how you could remake seven samurai and not be doing something horrible is beyond me otoh.

mattresslessness, Monday, 28 July 2014 23:12 (nine years ago) link

Unemployed ninjas protecting helpless peasants and a movie in which Toshiro Mifune is the 2nd best actor, normally I am with you all the way Matt but not on this.

xelab, Monday, 28 July 2014 23:53 (nine years ago) link

two years pass...

I watched Kagemusha for the first time since 1995, a first draft for what he'd realized far better in Ran: an idea of splendor, a sense that power is ceremonial and thus ephemeral.

the Rain Man of nationalism. (Alfred, Lord Sotosyn), Sunday, 11 June 2017 12:59 (seven years ago) link

*fingers moustache*

brimstead, Sunday, 11 June 2017 14:16 (seven years ago) link

nine months pass...

doesn't get any better than Ikiru and High and Low imo

flappy bird, Monday, 2 April 2018 01:45 (six years ago) link

eleven months pass...

I love the samurai films but I can't argue with Red Beard as his best.

The Bad Sleep Well is also great, though having Mifune off-screen for the ending creates a strangely muted effect.

Among his lesser films, I'm a big fan of The Idiot, which is too long, too slow, and (in its second part) too incoherent, but is still the most effective film adaptation of Dostoevsky.

Brad C., Thursday, 21 March 2019 13:38 (five years ago) link

five months pass...

I've been watching Kurosawa films in chronological order, so far have seen Sanshiro Sugata, Sanshiro Sugata Part Two, The Men Who Tread on the Tiger’s Tail, No Regrets for Our Youth, One Wonderful Sunday, and Stray Dog.

Setsuko Hara drew me into No Regrets for Our Youth the way she has in all of her films with Ozu. The other films I’ve enjoyed but haven’t loved.

Dan S, Sunday, 25 August 2019 22:23 (four years ago) link

The films made during the war were quite propagandistic and those made slightly after were subject to American censorship. They get better. I think Stray Dog, or the one just before that, Drunken Angel, are where he starts to get good (also when he starts working with Mifune and Shimura together)

koogs, Monday, 26 August 2019 02:03 (four years ago) link

> Rashomon, if anything, is a timeless story. Wasn't there even an American remake a couple of years ago?

― Tuomas (Tuomas), Tuesday, 8 July 2003 08:05 (sixteen years ago)

The Outrage (1964), transplants everything to a western setting (a railway station, not a temple...), has Paul Newman in the Mifune role and William Shatner as the preacher. It's well worth a watch.

koogs, Monday, 26 August 2019 02:25 (four years ago) link

xp Sanshiro Sugata 2 is pretty bad, but it's interesting as the first movie to show karate ... the contrast between the wild karate villains and the upright judoka reflects contemporary prejudice toward Okinawans and nationalist suspicions about karate being derived from Chinese martial arts.

Brad C., Monday, 26 August 2019 02:29 (four years ago) link

Imagine my surprise when Vincent Van Gogh opens his mouth in Dreams.

flappy bird, Monday, 26 August 2019 05:40 (four years ago) link

two weeks pass...

just watched Rashomon, I liked that the final version of the story, told by the woodcutter who is confirmed to be a liar and a thief, is both the most pitiful and humiliating and also the most believable

Dan S, Wednesday, 11 September 2019 23:35 (four years ago) link

I tried to absorb Stray Dog, but it was refracted out

still haven't watched Drunken Angel, I see that it's on the Criterion Channel

Dan S, Thursday, 12 September 2019 00:01 (four years ago) link

Throne of Blood was one of the films that changed the way I watch movies. It was also super influential for my personal music creation.

Spine of Bronze, Thursday, 12 September 2019 02:19 (four years ago) link

two weeks pass...

I thought The Idiot was beautiful, more emotionally powerful than any of the other films of his I’ve seen so far. I really liked the setting of eternal winter and the portrayal of extreme empathy

Dan S, Sunday, 29 September 2019 20:25 (four years ago) link

finally saw Drunken Angel on the Criterion Channel, it was also pretty great

Dan S, Thursday, 3 October 2019 01:04 (four years ago) link

I need to see more of his less canonical titles. I just watched Rashomon again yesterday; what a beautiful, bottomlessly fascinating movie.

Maria Edgelord (cryptosicko), Thursday, 3 October 2019 01:17 (four years ago) link

not sure exactly why but I didn't love Ikiru

Dan S, Tuesday, 15 October 2019 01:24 (four years ago) link

will come back to it

Seven Samurai is really long but has a lot of memorable characters, and Toshiro Mifune’s comic wild man performance is a large part of what keeps the film interesting

Dan S, Sunday, 27 October 2019 05:26 (four years ago) link

> Toshiro Mifune’s comic wild man performance is a large part of what keeps the film interesting

that's probably the opposite of what i think.

koogs, Monday, 28 October 2019 11:48 (four years ago) link

I Live in Fear wasn't all that compelling

Dan S, Sunday, 3 November 2019 03:04 (four years ago) link

I did like the final scene in the asylum stairway with Nakajima's daughter and Dr. Harada passing each other, it seemed very potent

Dan S, Monday, 4 November 2019 00:30 (four years ago) link

I remember liking that one and some knowledgeable friend of mine describing the lead perform as “tightly coiled,” although it’s been awhile.

Ferlinghetti Hvorostovsky (James Redd and the Blecchs), Monday, 4 November 2019 01:18 (four years ago) link

Throne of Blood did have some of the best ever Kurosawa scenes at its end, but the most indelible scene for me was near the beginning, the prophesying spirit in the forest with the weaving spool.

I know it’s an adaptation of Shakespeare, but it also seems very connected to Seven Samurai in portraying the tension between collectivism and individualism

Dan S, Saturday, 9 November 2019 01:20 (four years ago) link

seeing The Lower Depths (1957, based on a Gorky play) made me wonder if it was an influence for Kore-eda’s Shoplifters

Dan S, Friday, 15 November 2019 01:36 (four years ago) link

there are some really great scenes in The Hidden Fortress - the prisoner uprising, the spear fight, the bonfire especially

I didn’t realize it was an influence on Lucas for Star Wars, including the telling of the story from the point of view of the lowliest characters

Dan S, Wednesday, 20 November 2019 02:53 (four years ago) link

The Bad Sleep Well is relentless and grim, even for Kurosawa

Dan S, Saturday, 23 November 2019 02:01 (four years ago) link

it doesn’t seem at all interested in supplying a satisfying ending, which I like about it

Dan S, Saturday, 23 November 2019 02:17 (four years ago) link

two weeks pass...

Yojimbo is another really good samurai film, and is different from his previous ones with its frontier town Western quality

Dan S, Thursday, 12 December 2019 02:34 (four years ago) link

it's based on the classic hammett book Red Harvest and it really shows its source material

Fuck the NRA (ulysses), Thursday, 12 December 2019 02:43 (four years ago) link

Watched Stray Dog last week and I loved loved LOVED it - it's so good simply in basic film-making terms (blocking, editing, show don't tell), and the gritty noir vibe and denouement felt timeless. But I'm a Mifune tragic so I guess I was going to like it.

an incoherent crustacean (MatthewK), Thursday, 12 December 2019 03:32 (four years ago) link

I need to see it again! I've been immersed in Kurosawa but he made so many films that it's really hard to absorb them all

Dan S, Thursday, 12 December 2019 04:00 (four years ago) link

it's hard to pick a favorite Mifune performance, but I think he was really good in Yojimbo

Dan S, Thursday, 12 December 2019 04:17 (four years ago) link

Throne of Blood for me

Fuck the NRA (ulysses), Thursday, 12 December 2019 05:09 (four years ago) link

three weeks pass...

saw Red Beard for the first time and thought it was fantastic, such a humane story and memorable Toshirô Mifune role

it has been really interesting to watch Kurosawa’s films in order and see the evolution of Mifune’s performances

Dan S, Thursday, 2 January 2020 01:47 (four years ago) link

Dodes’ka-den is not the most interesting of Kurosawa’s films narratively, but its style is fascinating. It feels like a real break from his previous work

Dan S, Saturday, 11 January 2020 23:51 (four years ago) link

it was his first color film, with brightly painted surfaces reminiscent of Red Desert. Also it had his first use of zoom lenses and cycloramas

Dan S, Friday, 17 January 2020 01:43 (four years ago) link

the stylization of it kind of overwhelmed his previous social realism

Dan S, Friday, 17 January 2020 02:32 (four years ago) link

Dersu Uzala is another really great Kurosawa film.

Gary Arnold in the WP in 1978 had a very dismissive review of it as “a pastoral epic about the inherent superiority of a man who lives alone and in harmony with nature” which “reflects a decline in dramatic power and a doting, futile taste in sentimental hero-worship.”

I don’t think that describes it at all. The kindness of it reminds me of Red Beard, and it has a lot to say about our current disrespect for other people and our disregard for the environment.

Dan S, Tuesday, 21 January 2020 00:38 (four years ago) link

three years pass...

Takashi Shimura's role as the lead samurai in SEVEN SAMURAI is a beautiful work of art

budo jeru, Saturday, 2 December 2023 19:53 (six months ago) link

huh, who knew we even had a separate film board. well, at least i don't have to worry about anyone responding to my post

budo jeru, Saturday, 2 December 2023 19:54 (six months ago) link

Ha, it’s cursed, like one of those storefront locations that Jerry Seinfeld once referred to as “a black hole of retail.”

Shifty Henry’s Swing Club (James Redd and the Blecchs), Saturday, 2 December 2023 23:36 (six months ago) link

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