Experts consider Akira Kurosawa Japan?s most American director, the one most likely to use Hollywood techniques, Western source material, music, and dress — and occasional indulge in quasi-Disney sentimentality. The films represented by Eclipse?s oddly skewed Postwar Kurosawa box seem determined to brand him a Western suck-up, as it includes ambitious failures like his 1951 adaptation of Dostoevsky?s The Idiot and the almost Capra-like tale of a young, middle-class couple trying to enjoy a day off in a city ravaged by war, One Wonderful Sunday. This cloying oddity does its best to look on the bright side of military occupation and nuclear annihilation (indirectly, of course), and at one point the heroine breaks the fourth wall to beg sympathy for the hero. The rather dated and lugubrious Scandal, the story of an incriminating photograph of a young singer and a handsome painter that seems mild by today?s standards, takes aim at the paparazzi and ends up hitting the painter?s sleazy lawyer, almost accidentally. Curiously absent from this cinematic quintet is the more successful (and more Japanese) classic Rashomon. Fortunately, the set includes 1946?s dazzling No Regrets for Our Youth, an epic that tracks the political awakening of a bourgeois wife, and the nuclear family drama I Live in Fear: both provide solid evidence of Kurosawa?s exalted place in world cinema. -
About the Author
James Hannaham, a staff writer at Salon, also contributes to the Village Voice and teaches writing at the Pratt Institute. His first novel is forthcoming from McSweeney's Books in 2009.