KAGEMUSHA
1980, 20th Century Fox, 179 min, Japan/USA, Dir: Akira Kurosawa

In 16th-century Japan, Lord Shingen Takeda is killed by an enemy sharp-shooter and a condemned thief (Tatsuya Nakadai) who looks uncannily like Takeda must take the ruler’s place. Shakespearean in scope, Akira Kurosawa's epic period drama won the Palme d'Or at the 1980 Cannes Film Festival.


RAN
1985, Rialto Pictures, 160 min, Japan, Dir: Akira Kurosawa

In Akira Kurosawa's epic and existential samurai/Noh theater rendition of Shakespeare's "King Lear," a once-merciless and bloodthirsty Lord Hidetora (Tatsuya Nakadai) leaves his kingdom to his three sons. As Hidetora attempts to enjoy retirement in his twilight years, he is dropped into a nightmarish hell when filial squabbling and betrayal erupts. In Japanese with English subtitles.


DERSU UZALA
1975, Kino International, 141 min, Russia/Japan, Dir: Akira Kurosawa

Director Akira Kurosawa was pulling himself out of a suicidal depression when he agreed to helm this Soviet-Japanese co-production, which went on to win the Oscar for Best Foreign-Language Film. When Captain Vladimir (Yuri Solomin) and his Siberian forest expedition meet a diminutive mountain man, Dersu Uzala (Maksim Munzuk), at their rural campsite, a friendship begins that will span decades. Kurosawa perceptively and subtly explores the inevitable clash of civilization and nature, focusing on a relationship between two men who are very different yet share a kindred spirit. From Siberia’s beautiful wooded landscapes to its pitiless, snow-ravaged wastes comes this timeless evocation of man’s fateful, often fractured place in the world. In Russian and Chinese with English subtitles.


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