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Kurosawa's Rashomon: A Vanished City, a Lost Brother, and the Voice Inside His Iconic Films

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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 in 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.


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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 in 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.

30 review for Kurosawa's Rashomon: A Vanished City, a Lost Brother, and the Voice Inside His Iconic Films

  1. 4 out of 5

    Amy

    There was one essay worth of material in this book, so it was a chore to read because it was so repetitive. There was a lot of speculation and it was not always very plausible--hard to believe everything in Kurosawa's directorial choices could be traced to a few key life influences. There were also some strange omissions, for example: "The Hidden Fortress" wasn't mentioned when the author described Kurosawa's desire to portray strong women. (Fans of "The Hidden Fortress" will notice the movie wa There was one essay worth of material in this book, so it was a chore to read because it was so repetitive. There was a lot of speculation and it was not always very plausible--hard to believe everything in Kurosawa's directorial choices could be traced to a few key life influences. There were also some strange omissions, for example: "The Hidden Fortress" wasn't mentioned when the author described Kurosawa's desire to portray strong women. (Fans of "The Hidden Fortress" will notice the movie wasn't mentioned once in this book, which instead constantly referred to "Drunken Angel" and "Ikiru".) I learned a few things, but again, only enough for one essay and not an entire book.

  2. 4 out of 5

    Steven Kaminski

    Rashomon was one of the first movies I ever saw that got me interested in foreign films. I would go on to love all of Kurosawa's work that I have seen (with my favorite his last film 'Dreams'). This book though gets into the events and the times that shaped how Kurosawa made Rashomon and they are powerful... - Kurosawa was born in 1910 & started getting involved in the film industry in the late 1920's. He actually was chosen to develop propaganda films for the Japanese government which going into Rashomon was one of the first movies I ever saw that got me interested in foreign films. I would go on to love all of Kurosawa's work that I have seen (with my favorite his last film 'Dreams'). This book though gets into the events and the times that shaped how Kurosawa made Rashomon and they are powerful... - Kurosawa was born in 1910 & started getting involved in the film industry in the late 1920's. He actually was chosen to develop propaganda films for the Japanese government which going into the 1930's grew more militaristic. - In that time the movies were silent movies. And in the theaters they hired narrators for films (they grew so powerful they had a guild) Kurosawa's older brother Hiego was one of the best of these narrators...who would ironically be put out of work after movies came out with sound which Kurosawa made. - His older brother was a center of his life. He got him into watching movies by bringing him to the theater, he got him interested in foreign films (westerns which he modeled in the Seven Samurai) and also literature from around the world (in particular Russian literature which influenced him). But his brother was troubled. So troubled that he committed suicide in 1934 devastating his family. The influence of his brother would go on in all of Kurosawa's films after. - Two other huge events impacted Kurosawa sandwiched in between the death of his brother: The Tokyo Earthquake of 1923 which killed over 120,000 people and also the Firebombing of Tokyo in 1945 which killed over 100,000 people and which cost Kurosawa his personal home at the time. - Rashomon would go on to win awards all throughout the world and was a source of great pride for a country that was still rebuilding in fact a country that was under American control and censorship. It showed that a film industry could be validated there for its efforts. I really didn't even know about Kurosawa's brother but his impact after reading about it is now obvious in his movies. Good book showcasing the times his movies were made in...

  3. 4 out of 5

    Rick Wolff

    This is an excellent exegesis of Kurosawa's classic film Rashomon. The author intermingles his critical read of the film with Kurosawa's biography and Japanese history, insightfully showing how each impacts the other. The effect is poetic; those suggesting the book is repetitive fail to appreciate the interwoven web the author weaves. In so inventively showing connections among a film, a life and a country's history, the author interrelates strands of his tale in and out, back and forth, skillfu This is an excellent exegesis of Kurosawa's classic film Rashomon. The author intermingles his critical read of the film with Kurosawa's biography and Japanese history, insightfully showing how each impacts the other. The effect is poetic; those suggesting the book is repetitive fail to appreciate the interwoven web the author weaves. In so inventively showing connections among a film, a life and a country's history, the author interrelates strands of his tale in and out, back and forth, skillfully mentioning a previous story with a mention to show how it relates yet again to another part of the mosaic. His correlations are so perfect, symmetrical and regular that one senses they are somewhat more the product of the author's genius than necessarily reflections of reality. Still, their possible connectedness is what holds the reader's intrigue. The read on the film is impressive; even if you find parts of his all-too-perfectly-interrelated arguments about how Kurosawa's past and Japan's history impact the directors films, the interpretation of Rashomon itself makes this fascinating book worth a read.

  4. 5 out of 5

    Nick

    There is much to enjoy about Anderer's examination of the influences of Kurosawa's Rashomon. Unfortunately, the narrative jumps back and forth in time and between movies at such a fast pace that it ends up being repetitive and hard to keep up with, despite the excellent insights. Although loosely organized, I think the book would have worked better with a chronological or topical structure leading up to a description of the making of Rashomon, and then how the themes carried through in the rest There is much to enjoy about Anderer's examination of the influences of Kurosawa's Rashomon. Unfortunately, the narrative jumps back and forth in time and between movies at such a fast pace that it ends up being repetitive and hard to keep up with, despite the excellent insights. Although loosely organized, I think the book would have worked better with a chronological or topical structure leading up to a description of the making of Rashomon, and then how the themes carried through in the rest of Kuraswa's films. The book also relies heavily on Kurosawa's own memoir, which is an easy and insightful read in itself, and would have been better if it had focused more on insights from Japanese-language sources not accessible to the most readers. This book is a quick, worthwhile read for fans already familiar with Kurosawa's movies and with some knowledge of Japanese history, culture, and literature, but is not necessarily accessible to somebody new to Japanese cinema.

  5. 5 out of 5

    M.R. Dowsing

    This is an unusual book about the influence of events in Kurosawa's personal life on his films - notably, his experience of the Great Kanto Earthquake of 1923, and his elder brother's suicide ten years later. As the title suggests, there's a particular emphasis on 'Rashomon' - other films are also discussed, but not all. It's insightful, extremely well-written, and based on solid research, so I would definitely recommend it to the more-than-casual fan of Kurosawa, although I did find it a but dr This is an unusual book about the influence of events in Kurosawa's personal life on his films - notably, his experience of the Great Kanto Earthquake of 1923, and his elder brother's suicide ten years later. As the title suggests, there's a particular emphasis on 'Rashomon' - other films are also discussed, but not all. It's insightful, extremely well-written, and based on solid research, so I would definitely recommend it to the more-than-casual fan of Kurosawa, although I did find it a but drawn-out.

  6. 5 out of 5

    Casey Lehman

    Mostly felt like a guided or annotated read-through of Kurosawa’s autobiography. Definitely some interesting nuggets but overall repetitive and focused too narrowly on biographical criticism, as if it’s the only point of entry into Kurosawa’s work.

  7. 4 out of 5

    James Hawes

    The insights into Kurosawa’s films were interesting, but the biographical information has been presented better elsewhere.

  8. 4 out of 5

    Andy Connell

    could have been half as long if the author didn't repeat himself over and over again. Read like my college essays could have been half as long if the author didn't repeat himself over and over again. Read like my college essays

  9. 5 out of 5

    Matthew White

  10. 5 out of 5

    Federica Chiacchio

  11. 5 out of 5

    Jeremy Balliston

  12. 4 out of 5

    Valerio Spisani

  13. 5 out of 5

    Seth

  14. 4 out of 5

    Everett Wall

  15. 5 out of 5

    Michael

  16. 5 out of 5

    Mickey Kowaleski

  17. 5 out of 5

    Peter Ellehoj

  18. 5 out of 5

    Artem

  19. 5 out of 5

    Sebastian Muñoz

  20. 4 out of 5

    Jagannath

  21. 5 out of 5

    M. Fenn

  22. 4 out of 5

    Rob

  23. 5 out of 5

    Taylor Ross

  24. 4 out of 5

    Longwei Deng

  25. 5 out of 5

    E. James

  26. 4 out of 5

    Galip

  27. 5 out of 5

    Cabot Huffstutter

  28. 5 out of 5

    Bbaron 21

  29. 5 out of 5

    Cobalt Tolbert

  30. 4 out of 5

    Liz

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