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A groundbreaking investigation into the early life of the iconic Akira Kurosawa in connection to his most famous film—taking us deeper into Kurosawa and his world.
Although he is a filmmaker of international renown, Kurosawa and the story of his formative years remain as enigmatic as his own Rashomon. Paul Anderer looks back at Kurosawa before he became famous, taking us into the turbulent world that made him. We encounter Tokyo, Kurosawa’s birthplace, which would be destroyed twice before his eyes; explore early twentieth-century Japan amid sweeping cross-cultural changes; and confront profound family tragedy alongside the horror of war. From these multiple angles we see how Kurosawa’s life and work speak to the epic narrative of modern Japan’s rise and fall.
With fresh insights and vivid prose, Anderer engages the Great Earthquake of 1923, the dynamic energy that surged through Tokyo in its wake, and its impact on Kurosawa as a youth. When the city is destroyed again, in the fire-bombings of 1945, Anderer reveals how Kurosawa grappled with the trauma of war and its aftermath, and forged his artistic vision. Finally, he resurrects the specter and the voice of a gifted and troubled older brother—himself a star in the silent film industry—who took Kurosawa to see his first films, and who led a rebellious life until his desperate end.
Bringing these formative forces into focus, Anderer looks beyond the aura of Kurosawa’s fame and leads us deeper into the tragedies and the challenges of his past. Kurosawa’s Rashomon uncovers how a film like Rashomon came to be, and why it endures to illuminate the shadows and the challenges of our present.
Anderer (Other Worlds: Arisima Takeo and the Bounds of Modern Japanese Fiction) explores the early life of Japan's most famous film director, Akira Kurosawa, in this meandering and unsuccessful work. Active for more than 50 years, Kurosawa directed classics such as The Seven Samurai, Ran, and Rashomon. Anderer's premise is that a more complete understanding of Kurosawa's films can be obtained by examining the director's relationship with his older brother, Heigo, a film actor and suicide; the dual destructions of Tokyo in 1923 and 1945; and the director's early political leanings. This approach hinges on the message at the core of Rashomon: one must hear multiple sides of the story to know what has happened. Anderer takes this too far in his writing, which is elliptical to the point of confusion, and often repetitive. Heigo's suicide and two lost Tokyos are seminal life events for Kurosawa, but there seem to be half a dozen other influences during this period. Anderer provides some sense of the connection between the brothers, mostly expressed through their shared love of literature, but little explanation of what Tokyo meant to them. This book would be much aided by more straightforward chronology and some judicious editing.