How to pay my respect to one of the greatest masters of Japanese cinema? Well, first of all with a ‘thank you’. It is through one of Kurosawa-sensei’s films, Throne of Blood (1957) that I first encountered Noh theatre. While working on my MA dissertation at University of Verona (I was studying Shakespeare at the time) I fortuitously bumped into this screen adaptation of Macbeth. Kurosawa explicitly draws from Noh theatre to produce a masterpiece of black and white, sound and silence. Since then, I have seen Throne of Blood a zillion times, I wrote articles on it, produced the extras for the Italian DVD edition, etc.). Still the perfection of this film moves me as a few other things in my life did. My humble contribution to the genius of Kurosawa is in fact a token of thankfulness for having introduced Noh theatre in such a creative, yet ‘authentic’ way. Kurosawa not only loved Noh: he also understood it so well to know how to transpose its ineffable aesthetics on film, and with such a power. Akira Kurosawa has been long criticised by the Japanese for being too ‘Western’ – I say that it is thanks to artists who dare to do challenge the boundaries of genre, class, local criticism that an artistic dialogue, notoriously more effective than the political, can successfully take place. My reception of Noh started with his work, and I am doing my best to follow his example. So.. thank you, Kurosawa-sensei.
6 thoughts on “Akira Kurosawa 100th Anniversary”
Hi Diego,I was one of the students on the TAEDS course at Reading university were you did a Noh workshop with alongside Jiggs. I was the 'mature student' that brought fans with me.I also LOVE 'Thorne of Blood'. Is there any other productions that are similar? I Also loved the Noh Theatre production, what a treat! Do you know if there are any more such event coming to the UK?I really enjoyed the workshop by the way and wished it had been longer. Alas, I had to suspend my degree so will be repeating that part of the course later this year. But without Jiggs I am afraid :-(. Hope to see you then.Best regardsLucinda/Cindy
Hi Cindy, thanks for your comment. I really enjoyed working with you guys and Jiggs at Reading and hope to be back sometimes in the future! I'm glad you like Throne of Blood – there are a number of other Japanese films which draw from Noh theatre, in different forms. I would suggest you to look at Kurosawa's 'Ran' (King Lear), Mizoguchi – 'Ugetsu Monogatari', Shindo 'Onibaba'.. so many other! I might actually write a post on Noh and Cinema later on!
Great post Diego and fantastic blog! Adding it to my feed reader and going to tweet about it. My favourite Kurosawa is 赤ひげ – it's an epic film and really drives home all his film making techniques and ideas. It's beautifully shot with some astonishingly well plotted scenes. Really is a masterclass in film making.
Thanks Andrew, much honoured of the linkage! I love Akahige – as you said a masterclass in film-making on all planes. Looking forward to seeing more AK100 events coming up.
Hi again Diego. I just finished my degree (I got a first! :-)). Though I would let you know that watching Throne of Blood and then a year later watching Beckett’s “Waiting for Godot” led me toward my dissertation question: “What factors determine the convergence of dramatic works of W.B. Yeats, Samuel Beckett and Japanese Noh Theatre”. I thoroughly enjoyed writing it and it certainly helped me get a first. 🙂 Cheers, Cindy
Hi Cindy, that’s wonderful! Thanks for sharing the great news with me and let me know if your work will ever feature any publication – I would love to read it! All best, Diego