On 28 March the BFI releases a new box set, Early Kurosawa. This four-disc set contains six films from legendary auteur Akira Kurosawa that were made at the start of his career and demonstrate the emergence of a profoundly influential directorial vision, whose endless admirers range from Fellini and Bertolucci to Spielberg and Lucas.
Released on DVD for the first time in the UK, the six films span 1943 to 1947. They have been transferred to High Definition from the best available film elements and are packaged with a fully illustrated booklet featuring essays by Philip Kemp. The films are:
Sanshuro Sugata (Sugata Sanshiro), 1943
Kurosawa’s assured debut about a young man’s spiritual journey through the study and practice of judo.
Sanshuro Sugata Part Two (Zoku Sugata Sanshiro), 1945
This sequel reunites most of the principal cast from the original and follows Sanshiro face a new set of enemies whilst continuing his quest to become a judo master.
The Most Beautiful (Ichiban utsukushiku), 1944
An artful propaganda film that anticipates the social realism of Kurosawa’s post-war films, The Most Beautiful provides a fascinating portrait of female volunteer workers in an optics factory manufacturing lenses for binoculars and gunsights.
They Who Step on the Tiger’s Tail (Tora no o o fumu otokotachi), 1945
Adapted from Noh and Kabuki theatre, this classic tale of deception sees a lord and his bodyguard disguise themselves as monks to bypass an enemy roadblock.
No Regrets For Our Youth (Waga seishun ni kuinashi), 1946
Kurosawa’s first post-war film stars Ozu regular Setsuko Hara as Yukie, a privileged daughter of a professor who takes a soul-searching journey through rural Japan and comes to question her values.
One Wonderful Sunday (Subarashiki nichiyobi), 1947
A bitter-sweet story of young love set in the devastation of post-war Tokyo reminiscent of Frank Capra’s social realist comedies.