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Sydney Film Festival announces Kurosawa retrospective

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Written by
Nick Dent
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Ten classics by one of the finest directors in film history, as curated by David Stratton, are set to screen during Sydney Film Festival.

Akira Kurosawa (1910-1998) popularised Japanese cinema internationally in the wake of World War II, with dramas and action movies demonstrating extraordinary composition, psychological complexity and sheer visual excitement.

David Stratton, who met Kurosawa on a couple of occasions, has programmed the retrospective and will introduce the films.

Highlights include Rashomon (1950), arguably the very first ‘unreliable narrator’ movie, depicting a crime from the varying points of view of different people involved.

For samurai epics Seven Samurai (1954), The Hidden Fortress (1958) and Yojimbo (1961) Kurosawa drew upon American westerns, in turn influencing movies including The Magnificent Seven, A Fistful of Dollars and Star Wars.

Throne of Blood (1955) and Ran (1985) are Kurosawa’s takes on Shakespeare’s Macbeth and King Lear. Both offer haunting, disturbing and magical visions of a world in chaos.    

Also Shakespearean in grandeur is Kagemusha (1980), produced by George Lucas and Francis Ford Coppola, which concerns a condemned criminal who resembles a 16th century warlord and is enlisted as his double.

Modern-day dramas Ikiru (1952), Red Beard (1965), and High and Low (1963) will also screen.

Essential Kurosawa: Selected by David Stratton will screen at the Art Gallery of New South Wales and Dendy Opera Quays cinema, as part of the 64th Sydney Film Festival. Fresh 35mm prints will be imported from Japan for the retrospective.

Hanging out for Sydney Film Festival? Read our picks of program so far announced.

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