• Kurosawa_throne_of_blood_captions_contest_large

    Congratulations to Friday’s winner, Dan! Dan’s caption for this screenshot from Throne of Blood was:

    The Emperor initially resisted the switch from plastic bags to cloth.

    March is Akira Kurosawa month at Criterion. On the twenty-third, the great Japanese filmmaker would have been one hundred years old. For this centennial celebration, we will be posting trivia questions and other contests all month, and giving away a different prize every weekday.

    Today’s prompt:

    What’s your favorite use of music or sound in a Kurosawa film?

    Please respond by commenting below, and we’ll choose our favorite tomorrow. You must leave a valid e-mail address to be eligible for the prize (a Rashomon DVD).

138 comments

  • By Dustin Meadows
    March 09, 2010
    09:39 AM

    The music and sound during the duel in Yojimbo between Sanjuro and Unosuke has always been one of my favorite as it simultaneously displays the Western influence and incorporates that genre into Kurosawa's samurai films as the sword and the gun are pitted against each other. From the sharp music stings to the lonely atmosphere created by the low wind, it is truly one of the most memorable scenes of all Kurosawa's films.
    Reply
  • By Vander
    March 09, 2010
    09:56 AM

    The opening scene of Yojimbo, fantastic!
    Reply
  • By Alexander Bucsis
    March 09, 2010
    11:15 AM

    The harsh natural symphony during Seven Samurai's climactic final battle. Replacing a traditional score, Kurosawa employs the majestic disarray of the environment to create a soundtrack every bit as grating and violent as the bloody struggle it complements––at once volatile and restrained.
    Reply
  • By Andrew
    March 09, 2010
    11:31 AM

    My favorite use of music in a Kurosawa film is Tsurumaru's flute in Ran. It is so brutally haunting when it begins. It surmises everything that is wrong with Hidetora's world and seals his fate with one final plunge into irreversible madness. It simultaneously represents a lifetime of cruelty and the devastating events of just that day.
    Reply
  • By tenderfoot
    March 09, 2010
    02:00 PM

    Kurosawa’s use of the same song twice in the Hidden Fortress, first as a light hearted celebration at the fire festival, then as a eulogy the princess sings awaiting death; she sings the whole song with not one cut or movement. Using the same song to express a moment of happiness, and one of utter despair, brilliant.
    Reply
  • By Greg Hulett
    March 09, 2010
    02:01 PM

    The intro to Yojimbo as Sanjuro walks into town. The silence in when he arrives in the streets is a great lead up to all of the confrontations that arise from his coming to the town.
    Reply
  • By Brandon Goco
    March 09, 2010
    02:19 PM

    Throne of Blood : The sound of the swishing silk cloth as Asaji (Isuzu Yamada) slowly walks away from the camera into the dark, pitch black room. All you hear is her slowly "slithering" in the dark, the camera is still and unchanging. The menacing sound of her dress is just one of those eerie reminders that sounds can just be just as horrifying as images.
    Reply
  • By Buddy Hedrick
    March 09, 2010
    02:27 PM

    I really love the hipnotic drums, with the music slowly building as more instruments get introduced in the first woodland scene in Rashomon. As the woodcutter walks through the forest with his axe on his shoulder and the light flickering through the trees, the music coupled with the fantastic camera work creates a haunting ambiance. Kurosawa allows the music and the images to lay out the whole scene as the woodcutter goes deeper and deeper into the forest, finding various remnants of clothing along the way, and culminating in the revelation of a dead man with his hands outstretched. Only here, does the music cease, with the sound of the woodcutter's scream at the awful discovery.
    Reply
  • By Marshall Muse
    March 09, 2010
    04:11 PM

    The sound of my silence after watching any Kurosawa film as I think to myself, ".....Holy sh*t. That rocked."
    Reply
  • By Dan Thompson
    March 09, 2010
    04:24 PM

    I love the sound of Kurosawa's rain. It roars and becomes a soundtrack for the final battle sequence in Seven Samurai. In Rashomon, the rain's sound shhhs us to listen as the story begins. The sound of the rain in Stray Dog gives voice to the heat and the suspense.
    Reply
  • By rotem
    March 09, 2010
    04:34 PM

    In Ikiru, after his visit to the doctor where Kanji is notified about his situation, and that he has only a few months to live, we follow him in the next scene walking in the street. Instead of adding a sad tune to the scene, or introducing us to his thoughts via voice over, all we get is silence: we hear nothing, not the people walking around him, not the cars, not the birds- absolutely total silence. But after a few seconds, the sounds bursts back in: a loud sound of cars and people all mixed together is suddenly introduced to us- because they are now a threat on Kanji who crossed the street while there is danger around him- a danger which he didn't notice because he was overwhelmed by the doctors diagnosis he got moments a go. This is a brilliant use of sound or un-use of it: In the most difficult moment of a man, what can words say? What meaning does music have? All we are left is with the nothingness of the acceptance of the upcoming death.
    Reply
  • By Philip Conklin
    March 09, 2010
    04:48 PM

    The body hacking in Sanjuro
    Reply
  • By Mark Hendrix
    March 09, 2010
    04:58 PM

    The end of Ikiru, when Watanabe sings "Life is Brief" while swinging in the playground he got built is one of the most perfect scenes in motion picture history.
    Reply
  • By Matthew Vargas
    March 09, 2010
    04:59 PM

    When the old man in Ikiru sings at the night club, the lyrics and tone completely stun everyone. It reminds them of their all but brief mortality. When the man sings on the swing during his dying moments it becomes a truly heart shattering moment. The man is happy and at peace but the song has such poignant power. It never fails to bring a tear to my eye. :)
    Reply
  • By Kevin L.
    March 09, 2010
    04:59 PM

    The telephone ringing in High and Low is always so menacing, as well as the "mosh mosh? MOSH MOSH?" that follows the hang up. (I apologize for my probably butchering of the Japanese language.)
    Reply
  • By Joanna
    March 09, 2010
    05:09 PM

    Kagemusha: I love the scene in the beginning where the mud-covered messenger runs down the steps by the tired soldiers while the music starts out softly and grows. The music in Kagemusha has an almost tidal quality, it builds in waves, one part breaking on the beach while the other is rolling up behind it.
    Reply
  • By Zachary S.
    March 09, 2010
    05:25 PM

    The way Ran switches between silence and full sound with the sound of gun shot. Takemitsu's score through out the film gives me shivers.
    Reply
  • By vikram chandran
    March 09, 2010
    05:27 PM

    The signature Kurosawa sound effect is that of the Japanese "Uguisu" or Bush Warbler, whose fluty whistle is the signature of oncoming spring. Kurosawa uses it as a sign of good fortune or hope, or a sign that seasons and the film's moods may be changing for the better. Its the signature sound in Sanjuro and Akahige and is pure, classic Kurosawa.
    Reply
  • By Spencer
    March 09, 2010
    06:04 PM

    Definitely the opening to Throne of Blood. Went from Criterion, to Toho, to gigantic Japanese typeface. Piercing, haunting stuff. My English teacher played us the film when we were reading Macbeth. Class was taken back to say the least.
    Reply
  • By Susan
    March 10, 2010
    04:21 PM

    From "Dreams", the tunnel sounds in The Tunnel - single footsteps, one soldier marching, many soldiers marching, coming closer...closer...one of the creepiest sound segments ever as I watched the film, riveted on that tunnel entrance.
    Reply