Akira Kurosawa is one of the world’s greatest filmmakers.
His films have been acclaimed by critics the world over, and his celebrated samurai epics – featuring international star Toshirô Mifune – have inspired filmmakers as diverse as Steven Spielberg and Sergio Leone, and inspired countless films, including The Magnificent Seven. This indispensable Blu-ray collection contains digitally remastered High Definition presentations of five of Kurosawa’s greatest films, are accompanied with extra features including interviews with directors George Lucas and Alex Cox, feature-length audio commentaries and original theatrical trailers.
Seven Samurai When the residents of a small Japanese village seek protection they hire seven unemployed ‘ronin’ (masterless samurai). Paid only in handfuls of rice, the samurai remain distant from the villagers, knowing that their assignment may prove fatal. Unanimously hailed as one of cinema’s greatest masterpieces, Seven Samurai has inspired countless films, including The Magnificent Seven. Japan | 1954 | 207 minutes | Japanese language, with optional English subtitles | Original aspect ratio 1.33:1
Throne of Blood In this brilliant re-imagining of Shakespeare’s Macbeth Toshirô Mifune plays a samurai fated to betray his friend and master in exchange for the prestige of nobility. Kurosawa’s bloody tale is a triumph of economic style, and the climactic battle scene is full of remarkable, and brutal, imagery. Japan | 1957 | 108 minutes | Japanese language with optional English subtitles | Original aspect ratio 1.33:1
The Hidden Fortress In this classic collaboration between Kurosawa and star Mifune, a warrior and a princess try against all odds to return to their homeland with their fortune. Acknowledged by George Lucas as the inspiration for Star Wars, The Hidden Fortress combines an epic tale of struggle and honour with modern comic sensibilities to masterful effect Japan | 1958 | 144 minutes | Japanese language, with optional English subtitles | Original aspect ratio 2.35:1
Yojimbo A drifting samurai for hire plays both ends against the middle with two warring factions, surviving on his wits and his ability to outrun his own bad luck. Eventually the samurai seeks to eliminate both sides for his own gain and to define his own sense of honour. Yojimbo provided inspiration for A Fistful of Dollars Japan | 1961 | 110 minutes | Japanese language, with optional English subtitles | Original aspect ratio 2.35:1
Sanjuro After the success of Yojimbo , Kurosawa teamed up once again with Mifune one year later to make this comedy of manners. The film, which follows a man fighting corruption in local government, offers a twist on the classic Samurai tale by gently, but perfectly parodying the conventions of the Japanese period action movie tradition. Japan | 1962 | 99 minutes | Japanese language, with optional English subtitles | 2.35:1
All films presented in High Definition
Original theatrical trailers
The Art of Akira Kurosawa (2013, 49 mins): Asian-cinema expert Tony Rayns discusses Kurosawa’s career and influence
Interview with filmmaker George Lucas (2001, 8 mins)
Interview with filmmaker Alex Cox (2003, 9 mins)
Introduction to Sanjuro by Alex Cox (2003, 5 mins)
Full-length audio commentary on Throne of Blood by Japanese expert Michael Jeck
Full-length audio commentary on Yojimbo by film critic Philip Kemp
Fully illustrated booklet with contributions from Philip Kemp and Nigel Andrews, and full film credits