By Atul Mishra
“The term ‘giant’ is used too often to describe artists. But in the case of Akira Kurosawa, we have one of the rare instances where the term fits.”
Akira Kurosawa was a Japanese filmmaker and an influential figure in the history of cinema. To celebrate his legacy, The Japan Foundation, Delhi started the four-day Kurosawa film screening festival today.
Born in 1910, Kurosawa was a painter before endeavoring into films having gotten highly influenced by Dostoyevsky and Maxim Gorky. Kurosawa is known for maintaining an unwavering humanism in his films in spite of Japan’s turbulent modern history. Kurosawa’s films are a depiction of ordinary humanity and modest heroism displayed through humor and redemption in the face of ennui and depression. His films have left their mark on generations of audiences and filmmakers.
“Akira Kurosawa is one of the greatest directors ever to work in the cinema,” according to Francis Ford Coppola, “his films meant an enormous amount to me when I was starting my own career.”
Among his many brilliant masterpieces that include Seven Samurai, High and Low and Rashomon, four films have been chosen by The Japan Foundation to be screened for four days. The festival started with multitude of Kurosawa’s fans arriving on 24th August at 6.30 PM to watch his Ikiru, a film partly inspired by Leo Tolstoy’s 1886 novella The Death of Ivan Ilyich.
When the purple lights in the Rabindranath Tagore Hall at The Japanese Foundation went off, the reel projector started to roll and click. Ikiru started. The dialogues and music of the movie with the clanks and clicks of the projector gave the feel of classic 40s and 50s. And then it was all Kurosawa’s magic. The hall was hermetically sealed with people, most of them occupying the seats, many sitting on the floor and many standing. And yet, all the eyes were glued to the screen ahead. People of all ages had come to enjoy the brilliance of one of the greatest film makers of all time.
The seriousness and excitement was so mesmerizing that on getting to know that seats were full, a couple said, “No problem, we can sit on the floor, just allow us to enter”. The passion to watch Kurosawa’s films was shown not just by young people but old ones as well. Five minutes into the film and an old man said to a fairly young boy, “Could you please keep it inside your pocket? The brightness is disturbing”, while the latter had his phone in his hand.
Misako Futuski, director of Arts and Culture Department, on being asked what did she think drove so many people to watch Ikiru said, “Even though Kurosawa is Japanese, his films have a universal message that touches entire humanity. And we organized this screening festival on a very popular demand”.
Deepanshu, a Kurosawa fan, said, “For the film ambience and atmosphere and the feel you get while watching this kind of film with other Kurosawa fans and enthusiasts.”, on being asked, “why did you come to The Japanese Foundation for a film that you could have easily downloaded and seen at home?”
Undoubtedly this festival is worth visiting and present a great opportunity especially if you haven’t seen Kurosawa’s magic yet.
The festival concludes at 8.30 PM on 27th August. You must go for the rest of the screenings. And yes, be there before time as there are many Kurosawa fans in the city and you don’t want to miss your seat. The schedule is –
24 August: Ikiru
25 August: Seven Samurai
26 August: Throne of Blood
27 August: Yojimbo