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200 × 130 mm
208 pages
48 illustrations
11 Sep 2014
Critical Lives

Akira Kurosawa Peter Wild

‘Most directors have one film for which they are known or possibly two’, Francis Ford Coppola has said. ‘Akira Kurosawa has eight or nine.’ Through his many masterpieces such as Rashomon, Seven Samurai, High and Low, Yojimbo, Kagemusha and Ran, Kurosawa’s (1910–1998) work has influenced the most acclaimed directors working today, from George Lucas and Steven Spielberg to Martin Scorsese. His groundbreaking innovations in both cinematography and editing, combined with his storytelling, have made him a cinematic icon.

This book both evaluates Kurosawa’s films and offers a view of the man behind the camera, covering his family life and his legendary place on the global film-making stage. Throughout Kurosawa’s career there were repeated criticisms both from within his own country and abroad: he was too influenced by Western cinema; he was not authentically ‘Japanese’; he was too sentimental, naive, arrogant or out of touch. This new study helps us to understand Kurosawa – the man and his films – in his contemporary context.

An adroit evaluation, Akira Kurosawa will be essential reading for cinephiles, culture students and general readers alike who are interested in the work of this highly influential, masterful director.

‘The Japanese film director Akira Kurosawa was an intensely private man who once told an interviewer “there is nothing that says more about its creator than the work itself”. Kurosawa would have been pleased, then, that this addition to Reaktion’s Critical Lives series focuses primarily on his films . . . From Seven Samurai to Ran, Kurosawa’s distinctive mix of compelling stories, unique atmospheres and technical brilliance entranced audiences around the world and Wild’s succinct study is packed with insights into both the man and his work.’ – The Guardian

‘Wild convincingly interweaves the portrait of the man and the story of his pictures. He treats the landscape of Kurosawa’s life as a revealing setting for his historical epics and morality tales. Moreover, his book is a ‘good read’. Not in the sense that it is low in information value and easily digested, but in the sense that you have to finish it once you’ve started. Peter Wild writes about the life and films of Kurosawa in a captivating and compassionate manner. His succinct and career-spanning account makes for an enthralling introduction to Kurosawa’s oeuvre.’ – Historical Journal of Film, Radio and Television

Akira Kurosawa is one of those books where every paragraph seems to have been very carefully thought out to conserve space and maximise information density. Yet, Wild’s text is also very accessible and readable, for which the author must be commended . . . an excellent introduction to Kurosawa’s life and career, and I would not hesitate to suggest it to anyone new to the director. In fact, it may well be the best English language introduction currently out there’ – Kurosawa.info

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Peter Wild is the author and editor of a number of books and has written for publications including The Guardian and The Independent.