March 23rd would have been Akira Kurosawa's 100th Birthday, so Turner Classic Movies and The Criterion Collection is celebrating. I'd like to celebrate by purchasing AK 100: 25 Films of Akira Kurosawa but I will have to limit myself to finally purchasing Ranand Dersu Uzala(my two favorite Kurosawa films).
Ran is his adaptation of King Lear. Taken out of its Christian context, King Lear is an absolute tragedy. Kurosawa is the only director masterful enough to create a film with such powerful catharsis--reinterpreting one of the great art works of the West into a tragedy of the East. It is one of the finest films I have ever seen.
Derzu Uzala is based off the memoirs of a Russian explorer, and his native guide, as they travelled through Siberia. Uzala, the guide, is a beautiful character. The story is about the exchange between nature and civilization and about the friendship that transcends cultures. Kurosawa's gentle humor and cinematic poetry breathe new life into a somewhat tired theme.
I think I'll also take this as an opportunity to rent The Seven Samurai, my Dad's favorite film, which I have not seen in probably ten years. Most of his works are available on Netflix, too.