1950 • 88 minutes • 1.33:1 • Japan
Spine: #138 Editions: DVD, Blu-Ray, Collector’s Sets, Hulu Plus, iTunes
A riveting psychological thriller that investigates the nature of truth and the meaning of justice Rashomon is widely considered one of the greatest films ever made.
1954 • 207 minutes • 1.33:1 • Japan
Spine: #2 Editions: DVD, Blu-Ray, Collector’s Sets, Hulu Plus, iTunes
In Akira Kurosawa’s Seven Samurai (Shichinin no samurai), sixteenth-century villagers hire the eponymous warriors to protect them from invading bandits. This thrilling three-hour ride is one of the most beloved movie epics of all time.
1957 • 109 minutes • 1.37:1 • Japan
Spine: #190 Editions: Dual Format Blu-ray/DVD, DVD, Collector’s Sets, Hulu Plus, iTunes
A vivid, visceral Macbeth adaptation, Throne of Blood, directed by Akira Kurosawa, sets Shakespeare’s definitive tale of ambition and duplicity in a ghostly, fog-enshrouded landscape in feudal Japan.
1958 • 139 minutes • 2.35:1 • Japan
Spine: #116 Editions: Dual Format Blu-ray/DVD, DVD, Collector’s Sets, Hulu Plus, iTunes
The Hidden Fortress delivers Kurosawa’s trademark deft blend of wry humor, breathtaking action, and compassionate humanity.
1961 • 110 minutes • 2.35:1 • Japan
Spine: #52 Editions: DVD, Blu-Ray, Collector’s Sets, Hulu Plus, iTunes
To rid a terror-stricken village of corruption, wily masterless samurai Sanjuro (Toshiro Mifune) turns a range war between two evil clans to his own advantage in Akira Kurosawa’s visually stunning and darkly comic Yojimbo.
1962 • 96 minutes • 2.35:1 • Japan
Spine: #53 Editions: DVD, Blu-Ray, Collector’s Sets, Hulu Plus, iTunes
In Kurosawa’s sly companion piece to Yojimbo, jaded samurai Sanjuro helps an idealistic group of young warriors weed out their clan’s evil influences, and in the process turns their image of a “proper” samurai on its ear.
1962 • 133 minutes • 2.35:1 • Japan
Spine: #302 Editions: DVD, Blu-Ray, Hulu Plus
Following the collapse of his clan, unemployed samurai Hanshiro Tsugumo (Tatsuya Nakadai) arrives at the manor of Lord Iyi, begging to commit ritual suicide on his property in Masaki Kobayashi’s fierce evocation of individual agency in the face of a corrupt and hypocritical system.
1964 • 103 minutes • 2.35:1 • Japan
Spine: #226 Editions: DVD, Hulu Plus
In Kaneto Shindo’s chilling folktale, a mother and her daughter-in-law eke out a desperate existence in the lonely marshes of war-torn medieval Japan. When a neighbor returns from the skirmishes, lust, jealousy, and rage—and a horrifying fate at the hands of an ominous, ill-gotten demon mask—ensue.
1964 • 93 minutes • 2.35:1 • Japan
Spine: #596 Editions: DVD, Blu-Ray, Hulu Plus
This first film by the legendary Hideo Gosha is among the most canonized chambara (sword-fighting) films.
1965 • 161 minutes • 2.35:1 • Japan
Spine: #90 Editions: DVD, Hulu Plus
Kwaidan features four nightmarish tales in which terror thrives and demons lurk. Adapted from traditional Japanese ghost stories, this lavish, widescreen production drew extensively on Kobayashi’s own training as a student of painting and fine arts.
1965 • 85 minutes • 2.35:1 • Japan
Spine: #311 Editions: DVD, Collector’s Sets, Hulu Plus
Legendary swordplay filmmaker Hideo Gosha’s Sword of the Beast chronicles the flight of the low-level swordsman Gennosuke, who kills one of his ministers as part of a reform plot. His comrades then turn on him and, his sense of honor shaken, he decides to live in the wild, like an animal.
1965 • 100 minutes • 2.35:1 • Japan
Spine: #312 Editions: DVD, Collector’s Sets, Hulu Plus
Years of warfare end in a Japan unified under the Tokugawa shogunate, and samurai spy Sasuke Sarutobi, tired of conflict, longs for peace. When a high-ranking spy named Tatewaki Koriyama defects from the shogun to a rival clan, however, the world of swordsmen is thrown into turmoil.
1966 • 119 minutes • 2.35:1 • Japan
Spine: #280 Editions: DVD, Hulu Plus, iTunes
Tatsuya Nakadai and Toshiro Mifune star in the story of a wandering samurai who exists in a maelstrom of violence. A gifted swordsman—plying his trade during the turbulent final days of Shogunate rule—Ryunosuke kills without remorse, without mercy. It’s a way of life that leads to madness.
1967 • 121 minutes • 2.35:1 • Japan
Spine: #310 Editions: DVD, Collector’s Sets, Hulu Plus
Toshiro Mifune stars as an aging swordsman in director Masaki Kobayashi’s Samurai Rebellion, the gripping story of a peaceful man who finally decides to take a stand against injustice.
1968 • 114 minutes • 2.35:1 • Japan
Spine: #313 Editions: DVD, Collector’s Sets, Hulu Plus
In this pitch-black action comedy by Kihachi Okamoto, based on the same source novel as Akira Kurosawa’s Sanjuro, a pair of down-on-their-luck swordsmen arrive in a dusty, windblown town, where they become involved in a local clan dispute.
1980 • 180 minutes • 1.85:1 • Japan
Spine: #267 Editions: DVD, Blu-Ray, Collector’s Sets
In his late, color masterpiece, Akira Kurosawa returns to the samurai film and to a primary theme of his career—the play between illusion and reality. Sumptuously reconstructing the splendor of feudal Japan and the pageantry of war, Kurosawa creates a meditation on the nature of power.
1985 • 160 minutes • 1.85:1 • Japan
Spine: #316 Edition: DVD
With Ran, legendary director Akira Kurosawa reimagines Shakespeare’s King Lear as a singular historical epic set in sixteenth-century Japan. Majestic in scope, the film is Kurosawa’s late-life masterpiece, a profound examination of the folly of war.
Editions: DVD, Blu-Ray
The Samurai Trilogy, directed by Hiroshi Inagaki and starring the inimitable Toshiro Mifune, was one of Japan’s most successful exports of the 1950s, a rousing, emotionally gripping tale of combat and self-discovery.