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Akira Kurosawa: Master of Cinema Hardcover – March 9, 2010

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Editorial Reviews

Review

"The homage best suited for you coffee table comes from film historian Peter Cowie ... a visually stunning study of the director's work." ~Details

"A book of value to Kurosawa novices and to aficionados in search of deeper insight. Beautifully bound and printed, and lavishly illustrated ... it's a book worthy of its subject." ~San Francisco Chronicle

"The quiet, quotidian aspect of Kurosawa's art gets a nice push in the impressively lavish.  We're talking stacks of high-grade stills, notes, mockups Akira Kurosawa: Master of Cinema." ~Atlantic Monthly

"This is the definitive visual chronicle of a great artist." ~Palm Beach Post

"Akira Kurosawa: Master of Cinema by Peter Cowie is the most lavishly produced and profusely illustrated volume on Akira Kurosawa ever published." ~Turner Classic Movies

"The question that must be answered is whether there is enough new material in Akira Kurosawa: Master of Cinema to justify its steep price. Is there enough new material to make it worth a purchase? The answer for any serious Kurosawa fan is an emphatic yes, not only because of the soundness of Cowie's commentary, but also because of the hundreds of gorgeous images that supplement it." ~American Cinematographer

About the Author

Peter Cowie is a film historian and the author of Louise Brooks and Joan Crawford. Formerly the international director of Variety, he now serves as consultant for the Berlin Film Festival and contributes commentaries for Criterion Collection releases. Donald Richie is the world’s foremost expert on Kurosawa and is the author of many books on Japanese culture, including The Inland Sea and The Japanese Film. Kazuko Kurosawa, the daughter of the director, is a costume designer whose credits include more than fifteen films, including Akira Kurosawa’s Dreams.

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Product Details

  • Hardcover: 304 pages
  • Publisher: Rizzoli (March 9, 2010)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0847833194
  • ISBN-13: 978-0847833191
  • Product Dimensions: 8.9 x 1.4 x 12.8 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 4.8 pounds
  • Average Customer Review: 4.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (8 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #1,504,436 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

Format: Hardcover
With the addition of this volume to my library I own just about every book on Kurosawa in the English language. With no serious competition it is the most beautiful. It is printed on wonderful, heavy stock paper with beautifully chosen and reproduced photographs. In a way choosing gorgeous photos for the book was not much of a challenge, because few directors had a better eye than Kurosawa. Some of the most unforgettable images that I have ever seen in movies appeared in his films. Although SEVEN SAMURAI was 200 minutes long, virtually every shot in the scene is suitable for framing. Nonetheless, the photos in this book, whether stills from the films, behind the scenes, or photos of shooting scripts are consistently beautiful and highly informative. The quality of the design of the book can be seen in the book's gorgeous cover. The front shows a still featuring Toshiro Mifune from YOJIMBO and the back a photo from the set of KAGEMUSHA. But if you take the cover off the book and unfold it, it opens to a large color poster showing a shot, I believe, from RAN.

The text is also wonderfully informative. I've read a number of books on Kurosawa, including his own SOMETHING LIKE AN AUTOBIOGRAPHY, Stephen Prince's exceptional THE WARRIOR'S CAMERA, and the standard survey of his films, THE FILMS OF AKIRA KUROSAWA by Donald Richie. While I would not recommend this above either the Prince or the Richie, this is nonetheless an extremely perceptive, insightful study of his work. It highlights a number of important themes in his work and provides a number of insights into his films.
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5 of 5 people found the following review helpful By Gary Vidmar on March 26, 2010
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
This rapturous volume is an exceptional tribute to Kurosawa, designed to fully capture the visual glory of his work. Cowie's text is thoughtful, but less-detailed than other books on the director. The writing is engaging nonetheless, and examines Kurosawa's work from various perspectives: the humanist sagas; the revisionist Samurai; and his literary themes and variations.
A well-designed book, ripe with interesting photos, for those who relish Kurosawa as an icon in cinema history.
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4 of 4 people found the following review helpful By Christopher Barrett TOP 1000 REVIEWERVINE VOICE on March 21, 2012
Format: Hardcover
Let me just say that $75 is reasonable for this book. I received a copy for my Birthday last year and being a huge Kurosawa fan, I love it. It's rather large and very sturdy with fine glossy pages and gorgeous photos. Most photos are black and white (being from the era of his black and white films) with some color photos of his later films.

This book takes a look at each film Kurosawa directed, starting with Sanshiro Sugata all the way to Rhapsody in August. The real meat is from the 50s and 60s. There are well written synopses of the films as well. Each film is discussed chronologically. There are some photographs of behind the scenes directing, but these are about 1/4 or so of the total.

If you or someone you know is a Kurosawa fan, then this is a great gift to yourself or that special person. I immediately covered it in a clear library style cover to protect it, but I still flip through it on frequent occasions, usually when watching a Kurosawa flick. This will likely be a collector's item one day.

Highly recommended!
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11 of 17 people found the following review helpful By SuzeeR on March 23, 2010
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
This is an expansive, generally well-conceived book.
Generously illustrated with many wonderful insights, it is
a good addition to any Kurosawa fan's library. A few
points however --while discussing Drunken Angel, Cowie
states Matsunaga is "Even more addicted to liquor
than Sanaka..."I must disagree. Sanaka is the angel
of the title, drinking his patients' alcohol.
Matsunaga seems willing to give up drinking as his
redemption approaches, but after his mentor encourages
him, he must drink to 'save face'. Regarding the
same film, Cowie says Matsunaga steals a carnation
to give to his girlfriend. Actually the yakuza has a
habit of taking the flowers for his own lapel. In
this instance, as his appreciation for life has
grown, he stops to gaze for a moment at the flower,
a moment that his old boss again disrupts.
Later on the same page, Cowie compares Shimura and
Mifune's characters in The Quiet Duel. He says
Shimura, the father, tries to save his son from
death by syphilis. Actually, the father can only
provide emotional support after he finds out, but
he does nothing else. Kyoji,the son, does not seem
to "...regard the world as harsh and unforgiving."
He continues to help his patients with devotion
and care (witness the baseball glove). He is angry
about his fate, but his ability to see outside himself
allows him to save his beloved fiancee from the
waiting game he must play. Much later in the book,
during a discussion of The Hidden Fortress, Cowie states
Tahei and Makakashi "..are freed by General Rokurota Makabe."
They are not rescued, they escape on their own.
These things are small alone, together they are a bit
troubling.
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