On this date in 1910, Akira Kurosawa was born in Tokyo. And I remain ridiculously proud of the fact that, during a Manhattan press conference tied to the 1985 New York Film Festival premiere of his masterwork Ran, I made the sensei of cinema smile.
I was asking a question, through a translator, about his reputation as a director of unforgivingly harsh and often brutally fatalistic dramas. And I wanted to know if he thought that was a bad rap, because there actually were some upbeat movies on his resume — like the sweetly romantic One Wonderful Sunday, a deeply affecting 1947 tale of life and love in post-WWII Japan that did not get wide US release until the early 1980s.
“Now, I’m not saying that you’re a party kind of guy…” I continued. But then I had to pause, because at that point, Kurosawa exploded into laughter. Which, of course, made me wonder how much he really needed that translator.
But seriously folks: Here is an appreciation of Akira Kurosawa and his work — tied to a 2010 retrospective at the Museum of Fine Arts, Houston — that I wrote back in the day for CultureMap Houston.