Monitor; The death of Akira Kurosawa - as reported in newspapers from around the world

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The Independent Culture
AKIRA KUROSAWA, who has died aged 88, was the best-known Japanese film-maker; his film Rashomon put his country on the cinematic map, winning the top prize at the 1951 Venice Film Festival and an Oscar for best foreign film. Thereafter, Kurosawa was recognised internationally as one of the great figures of post-war cinema, collecting a string of prizes and awards. On set, Kurosawa was dictatorial. People called him tenno (emperor), though not to his face. When he was set to direct the Japanese side of Tora! Tora! Tora! (1970), the film about the attack on Pearl Harbor, he insisted that the Japanese cast should undergo basic military training. He was fired. - Daily Telegraph

DIRECTOR Steven Spielberg described Kurosawa ... as "the visual Shakespeare of our time". "I am deeply saddened by Kurosawa's death," [he said]. "But what encourages me is that he is the only director who right until the end of his life continued to make films that were recognised as, or will be recognised as, classics." Tokyo film critic Yoshio Shirai said: "Before Rashomon, the outside world's image of Japan was Mt Fuji, geisha and cherry blossoms. After the movie, it changed to Kurosawa, Sony and Honda, in that order." Kurosawa was in a jovial mood in Los Angeles on his 80th birthday, 23 March, 1990. "I don't feel I'm 80," he said in his hotel suite. "To be honest, I feel like behaving like a total fool, but I can't do it because my producers are here," he exclaimed. - Los Angeles Times

AKIRA KUROSAWA did not utter a last word on his deathbed, but the films he left behind represent his "last word", the film director's son, Hisao, said on Sunday. Hisao, who serves as president of Kurosawa Production, said he was unable to see his father before he died because he was on a business trip ... but he quoted his sister, Kazuko, as saying that the last breath his father took was "as peaceful as if he were going to sleep". Asked what he was like as a father, Hisao said: "I couldn't think of him separately as father and a film director ... He was just Akira Kurosawa." He said he would put a golf club in his father's coffin. - Daily Yomiuri (Japan)

HE RANKED with Sweden's Ingmar Bergman and Italy's Michelangelo Antonioni as one of the elite survivors of the art-house heyday of the 1950s and 1960s. Mr Kurosawa was often described as a humanist. But (he) could just as easily be seen as an existentialist, a student of human absurdity and man's tenuous place in the universe. (He) was quick to dispel high- brow theories of his art and its intentions. "I'm not a philosopher or a preacher. I have no lessons to impart. Nothing to teach," he confessed. "Simply look at my films and draw from them whatever meaning you like. Audiences are too smart to sit still and be preached at. There's nothing like didacticism to send them streaming toward the exits." - Dallas Morning News

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