From Library Journal
Akira Kurosawa dominated the landscape of post-World War II Japanese cinema with such internationally influential films as Rashomon, Seven Samurai, and Ikiru. Actor Toshiro Mifune collaborated with Kurosawa on 16 films, and despite his claim that he was "always true to the Japanese spirit," critics compare his visceral acting style to that of Brando or De Niro. This is a dual biography of two Japanese film greats who brought out the best in each other, and Galbraith (The Japanese Filmography) expertly weaves together their stories. As Galbraith recounts, the two men gradually grew apart because of drinking problems, egos, and the collapse of the Japanese film industry. Much space is devoted to Kurosawa's unhappy experience attempting to direct segments of the American Pearl Harbor epic Tora! Tora! Tora!, but as Galbraith shows, Kurosawa's overwhelming desire to create led to recovery and a distinguished body of work late in life. Meanwhile, Mifune squandered his talents in a futile bid for international stardom in overblown film and television efforts. This book tells a little-known, sometimes inspiring story and provides an astute reading of major themes in the work of Kurosawa and Mifune. Recommended for public and academic libraries as a companion to Donald Richie's The Films of Akira Kurosawa (Univ. of California, 1999. rev. ed.). Stephen Rees, Levittown Regional Lib., PA
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Japanese film director Akira Kurosawa and actor Toshiro Mifune might be thought of as John Ford and John Wayne for the world-cinema crowd. Although both had successes with other collaborators, they are best known for the 16 films they made together, the most famous being samurai-era dramas, such as Rashomon
and The Seven Samurai
, and the others including equally brilliant contemporary dramas. Their last work together was Red Beard
(1965), and they each continued making films for another 30 years, until their deaths, nine months apart. Kurosawa has been the subject of numerous critical works, but no English-language biography predates this book. Furthermore, most of Mifune's 126 features remain unseen in the U.S. Thus Galbraith's dual biography fills two gaping holes in English-language filmography. Unable to meet with Mifune and interviewing Kurosawa only by fax, Galbraith did talk directly with coworkers and family members, and he uses published resources effectively. As one of world cinema's leading figures, Kurosawa is the more important subject here, but the information on Mifune is most welcome, too. Gordon FlaggCopyright © American Library Association. All rights reserved