This years marks the 100th anniversary of Kurosawa’s birth. Throughout the year Japan has been celebrating his centenary through exhibitions and attractions featuring his art work and international posters of his movies as well as screenings of his most celebrated and important films in his long career.
A while back I had the privilege of attending an Exhibition in Ebisu, Tokyo which featured paintings from the master himself. It’s beyond a delight to get up close to something the great artist has laid his creative hands on. It’s a wonderful exhibition to mark his centenary and gives a greater insight into his method and process of film making.
From what I’ve read Kurosawa was a meticulous filmmaker, when he wrote the scripts for his movies such as the Seven Samurai, he even went into such great detail to note what each character ate for breakfast.
Kurosawa also enjoyed painting but burned a large portion of the work he created. A lot of his paintings that exist today are based on his film projects, for some projects such as Kagemusha Kurosawa was unsure he would be able to secure financing for such a large scale film and thus wanted to release his artistic vision to the world in some form if film was not possible. So presented were paintings for ‘Ran’, ‘Kagemusha’, ‘Dreams’, ‘Mādadayo’, and ‘The Sea is Watching’
It was really interesting to see paintings from scripted scenes that were cut out of his films, for example the declaration of world peace segment that was written for ‘Kurosawa’s Dreams’, the main character being woken up by artillery shells only to discover they are being fired in celebration of world peace.
A large portion of these sketches and paintings were donated by Martin Scorsese who was given them as a gift by Kurosawa. Scorsese himself appeared in Kurosawa’s “Dreams” as Vincent Van Gogh. Kurosawa cast him after meeting him and seeing how passionate Scorsese was about the art of film making, so much so that it reminded Kurosawa of Van Gogh’s passion in his letters to his brother Theo.
The most interesting Painting in the exhibition for me was a painting from “Dreams” of the old wise man by the water mill. Why I adored it so much was because the brush strokes were so vivid like those of Van Gogh himself. I couldn’t help but smile inside.
Favorite Quote: “Everybody, find something you really love. I advise you to look for something that is truly important to you, something that matters and has most significance to you. Once you find it, try to channel all your energy into it.” – Akira Kurosawa