• Congratulations to Friday’s winner, Rick, and thanks for calling attention to an underappreciated film in response to our question about favorite Kurosawa remakes! It’s now in the Netflix queue of many a Criterion staffer. Here’s what Rick had to say:

    The Outrage, starring Paul Newman and Edward G. Robinson (oh, and Shatner’s in it, too). The concept of Rashomon has been used countless times (I’m quite fond of the X Files episode “Bad Blood” and the All in the Family episode when Archie and Meathead tell conflicting versions of the same story to explain what happened to the refrigerator), but The Outrage was an intentional remake of the Kurosawa film. The characters all give conflicting reports of a rape and murder in the American West. Great stuff.

    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 would you pick as your “desert island” Kurosawa movie?

    Please respond by commenting below, and we’ll choose our favorite tomorrow. You must reside in the U.S. or Canada and leave a valid e-mail address to be eligible for the prize (a Dodes’ka-den DVD).

156 comments

  • By Craig Bennett
    March 16, 2010
    09:41 AM

    Ikiru to remind me that life is worth living.
    Reply
  • By James Mulligan
    March 16, 2010
    09:59 AM

    Personally, I'd try to sneak the Post-War Kurosawa box or something. I've got a soft spot for some of his smaller films. Call me crazy, but I rather enjoy when Kurosawa gets away from the samurai, and things like The Idiot are among my favourites. If I could only take one, it'd probably be a toss up between that, No Regrets For Our Youth, and Drunken Angel.
    Reply
  • By Sam Moyerman
    March 16, 2010
    10:31 AM

    Madadayo. As much as I love Seven Samurai and Ran, they're movies I would really want to discuss with people. And everyone who said Ikiru is right that it makes us believe life is worth living. But Madadayo is the one movie in his ouvre that really makes me feel complete after watching it. It doesn't just reaffirm that life is worth living; it shows us that no matter the situation, no matter the trials, life is what we make of it. It's not just us but those we influence and affect. Just a beautiful and (way too) often overlooked film. Always leaves me with a smile on my face. Madakai? MADADAYO!!!
    Reply
  • By thepete
    March 16, 2010
    10:43 AM

    "Stray Dog" simply because it's lessons of personal responsibility is an important one and I've always found the movie to be rewatchable--an important trait when stranded on an island. :)
    Reply
  • By Kevin P.
    March 16, 2010
    12:50 PM

    Is this a trick question? Should we assume that we will be trapped on the island for a very long time? Hidden Fortress seems to be the obvious choice. Mifune in a great lead role, but its really the two bumbling idiots who make the film. You get an action/comedy/drama all rolled into one, with funny and well written dialog, and the brilliant cinematography.
    Reply
  • By Caroline
    March 16, 2010
    01:39 PM

    This is tough, but I'm going to pick Throne of Blood. When I eventually descend into madness, it would be nice to have something to relate to.
    Reply
  • By Andrew
    March 16, 2010
    01:49 PM

    Throne of Blood The scene of the Lady Macbeth character trying to scrub the imaginary blood from the floor remains one of the most profound visual treatments of guilt in movie history. And it's more than guilt--anguish, rage, dread. I can't think of a more emotionally wrenching scene. It gives me the willies but I want to watch it over and over. Her obsession would be even more identifiable and more affecting, I'm sure, after a few days on a deserted island! How long is the extension cord for the DVD player, anyway?
    Reply
  • By Green Rahman
    March 16, 2010
    01:57 PM

    YOJIMBO! When you say 'desert island', you mean 'a long time', you mean 'a lonely time'. So you need a movie that you can watch over and over and over again without getting bored. 'Seven Samurai' is 'too heavy', 'Rashomon' is 'too heavy', 'Ikiru' is 'too gloomy' - for a desert island, that is. I have seen YOJIMBO many times from begining to end. I have also seen YOJIMBO scene-wise. I have many, many favorite scenes that I watch just that day. For example, the dog carrying the hand, the gang head bidding for Sanjuro's service. I have also seen YOJIMBO music-wise. For example, the opening credit sequence, the sequence where he just enters the town, the sequence where the two gangs are face to face while the hero enjoys the show. I have also seen YOJIMBO instruction-wise. Before an important event I see a scene that is inspiring to me. For example, the final showdown- gun vs sword. I have watched that scene before every final exam all through my college. I still do whenever I need some courage. I tell myself, 'if he can do that so can I'. I will definitely take YOJIMBO to that island!
    Reply
  • By najirah
    March 16, 2010
    02:09 PM

    If I were stranded on an island, I would want to watch a film that was similar to my current condition. Something that let me know that I’m not the first to be stranded, that others had been in my situation before, and I wouldn’t be the last. Eventually, I would take comfort in the fact that yes, I am physically isolated from civilization, but psychologically, I’ve always been alone, like everyone else. For these reasons, I would have to go with Rashomon. It’s the film that creates the same sense of isolation as a deserted island would. First of all, there are only three (as opposed to hundreds and thousands) characters, really—four, if you want to count the abandoned (isolated, stranded) baby—the rest are just part of backflashes. The woodcutter, priest and the boorish villager are pretty much stranded in that gatehouse by the rainstorm. The gatehouse, like the island for me, is their only refuge for the time being, and Kurosawa seems to go even further by showing each character as an island unto himself. All three characters come from a different class and seem to have a different level of sin. The priest is assumed to be the most morally pure, while the woodcutter has done regrettable things but he tries to redeem himself; and the villager seems to lack moral fiber all together. He knows what he is doing is wrong, but he doesn’t show any remorse or signs of wanting to better himself. The same can be said of the bandit, the wife and the samurai in that all three realize how easily they’re willing to separate themselves from the other, lie and blame each other in order to preserve themselves. Plus, Rashomon is a hell of a movie.
    Reply
  • By Curtis Seelen
    March 16, 2010
    02:36 PM

    Dreams - because I think it would give me a lot to think about.
    Reply
  • By Adam Sabata
    March 16, 2010
    03:28 PM

    I would have to say THRONE OF BLOOD. Simply for the great combination of Noh theater, Shakespeare and Kurosawa all rolled into one. The movie would remind me of why I am on this Island in the first place. I would want to be reminded of a world of petty intrigues and personal glories that I have escaped from. Plus, so many of the scenes reference of all the other great films in his career: the attack on the castle-Ran, the actors-Any Film. Each scene would remind me of all the great films and scenes that Kurosawa delighted us with so that I would never be alone on that island if I was stuck there for a hundred years.
    Reply
  • By Matt Reddick
    March 16, 2010
    03:40 PM

    The Lower Depths... it comes to mind right away b/c it's the first, and so far, only Kurosawa dvd I own. I was lucky enough to see a screening of it at the Film Forum and it only got better. The compositions are amazing and the characters just as fascinating.
    Reply
  • By Harry Timmons
    March 16, 2010
    03:48 PM

    The Hidden Fortress. Who better than to join you on a desert island than those two peasants? I just can't feel lonely with those guys around.
    Reply
  • By Henry Dykstal
    March 16, 2010
    03:55 PM

    Seven Samurai. It's three and a half hours of greatness, a film that can be studied over and over for days. It's a movie that demands repeated viewings, not just to understand it, but to see everything you missed.
    Reply
  • By DOUG SOPER
    March 16, 2010
    04:15 PM

    While "Seven Samurai" is my favorite, I feel that "Throne of Blood" is Kurosawa's most watchable movie. There's something hypnotic about it and I find myself coming back time and again. That's the kind of movie one needs on a island. It's my Friday. My Wilson.
    Reply
  • By JHW
    March 16, 2010
    05:35 PM

    No Regrets for Our Youth. A very inspiring movie with a perseverant positive attitude that would help me survive the Desert Island.
    Reply
  • By Joren Cain
    March 16, 2010
    05:45 PM

    It has to be "Kagemusha" for me. I'd have all the time in the world while on the island, so a longer, more meditative film would be the way to go. This film has some of the most beautiful visuals in Kurosawa's entire ouvre, and I am always mesmerized by the story and great acting by Tatsuya Nakadai. "Kagemusha"!
    Reply
  • By tenderfoot
    March 16, 2010
    05:48 PM

    On an island all alone with my one Kurosawa film Ran in hand I’d still feel at home. Waves could crash violently, rain might as well pour bucks, and damn the wild animals, I’m still watching Ran. Only difference from home while I watch is the scent of sand and the salty ocean, which isn’t bad. Kurosawa and Shakespeare, two geniuses that could double team me tell the end of my days, and Ran to me is the greatest of the pairing. Any way if I ever actually miss humanity I’ll pop it in again to take care of that, 3 hours flat.
    Reply
  • By Jon
    March 16, 2010
    06:04 PM

    Seven Samurai, because I'm a sucker for both classics and martial arts.
    Reply
  • By REO
    March 16, 2010
    09:45 PM

    Seven Samurai. Great LONG film lot of stuff to notice over the long haul.
    Reply

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