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Dryden Theatre celebrates the 100th Anniversary of Kurosawa

Retrospective features six masterpieces, including Seven Samurai, Dodesukaden, and Ran

Rochester, N.Y., June 17, 2010—The Dryden Theatre at George Eastman House is showcasing the films of Japanese filmmaker Akira Kurosawa (1910-1998), one of cinema’s most recognized directors, with a retrospective in August titled “Akira Kurosawa Centennial.” This year marks the 100th anniversary of Kurosawa’s birth and the Dryden is celebrating by screening six of his popular and lesser-known titles. 

The Dryden Theatre will start the celebration with one of Kurosawa’s best-known samurai tales featuring the incomparable Toshiro Mifune — two of which are Seven Samurai and Throne of Blood, a reinterpretation of Shakespeare’s Macbeth. In fact, Mifune starred in 16 of Kurosawa’s films, marking their actor/director collaborations as one of world cinema’s most prolific pairings. When the duo made their third movie together, the noir-ish detective tale Stray Dog in 1949, their partnership was only two years old.

In 1970, Kurosawa made his first color film, Dodesukaden, a somewhat uncharacteristic film for him, details the everyday lives and struggles of several contemporary Tokyo slum-dwellers. While renowned internationally, the director had trouble securing financing for his films in Japan. However, in 1995 he re-emerged with Dersu Uzala, which won an Oscar® for Best Foreign Language Film. Afflicted with failing eyesight in his 70s, Kurosawa persevered to make Ran — which will screen at the Dryden twice, featuring a new print made from the original camera negative — a reinterpretation of Shakespeare’s King Lear, which the director, as well as critics, suggested was his best work.

“What's remarkable about Ran is that the drama enhances the spectacle the same way the spectacle bolsters the drama,” said Kenneth Turan of The Los Angeles Times. “Few other directors had Kurosawa's ability to convey the intimate as well as the epic, to handle stillness as well as violence.

Kurosawa went on to direct three more features after Ran. His last completed film, 1993’s Madadayo, touches upon the subject of aging and the possibility of immortality through art.

“Descended from a samurai lineage, Kurosawa drew inspiration from sources as diverse as Shakespeare’s tragedies, Russian novelists Dostoyevsky and Tolstoy, Noh theatre, and jidaigeki, or period dramas typically set during the Edo period,” said Dinah Holtzman, Dryden Theatre’s assistant film programmer. “Trained as a painter, Kurosawa painted large-scale rather than sketched-out thumbnail-size storyboards.”

The acclaimed director was honored with an Academy Award® for Lifetime Achievement in 1989 and is widely praised by countless auteurs of international cinema ranging from George Lucas and Francis Ford Coppola to Alexander Payne and John Singleton.


The films of “Akira Kurosawa Centennial” 

Admission to each film is $7 general/$5 students and members.

For more information visit dryden.eastmanhouse.org or call (585) 271-4090.

8:30 p.m. Thursday, Aug. 5: STRAY DOG (Japan, 1949, 122 min. Japanese with subtitles)

7 p.m. Saturday, Aug. 7: SEVEN SAMURAI (Japan, 1954, 206 min. Japanese with subtitles)

8 p.m. Thursday, Aug. 12: THRONE OF BLOOD (Japan, 1957, 110 min. Japanese with subtitles) 

8:30 p.m. Thursday, Aug. 19: DODESUKADEN (Japan, 1970, 140 min. Japanese with subtitles)

8 p.m. Thursday, Aug. 26: MADADAYO (Japan, 1993, 136 min. Japanese with subtitles)

8 p.m. Friday and 4 p.m. Sunday, Aug. 27 and 29:  RAN (Japan, 1985, 161 min. Japanese with subtitles)