• 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 Kurosawa poster, DVD, or Blu-ray disc every weekday.

    Today’s prompt:

    What was the first Kurosawa film you saw? Describe the experience briefly—when/where/how?

    Please respond by commenting below, and we’ll choose our favorite at the end of the day. You must leave a valid e-mail address to be eligible for the prize (Drunken Angel on DVD).

53 comments

  • By Jesse B.
    March 02, 2010
    06:43 PM

    It all started with "The Magnificent Seven". When I was younger, it was inconceivable that there could be a greater version than Yul Brynner, Eli Wallach, Steve McQueen, James Coburn and Charles Bronson's American masterpiece. It was the Western version of a super-group. Then, an older friend I love and respect did a rendition of Toshiro Mifune's speech condemning the samurai, and defending the villagers. It might have been in a log cabin and he might have donned shin guards and hockey gloves as he spoke to replicate the armor... but I had chills. I watched "Seven Samurai" the next day. And that was the beginning of my relationship with Kurosawa.
    Reply
  • By akbaier
    March 02, 2010
    06:44 PM

    Seven Samurai was my first Akira Kurosawa film. I saw this shortly after I saw the Magnificent Seven which I loved. Feeling guilty I knew I had to watch the original. Magnificent Seven was fun and it had a lot of flare. Seven Samurai was the real deal with Kurosawa's detail and precision in character and story making it more than fun but also PERFECT movie. The villager's life and suffering was more clear through the actors, the group of samurai looked more rugged than the gunslingers and there was more detail in the defense tactics. Seiji Miyaguchi played my favourite character being the stoic bad ass. I could never forget Toshiru Mifune and Takashi Shimura contrasting each other as the loud, arrogant warrior and the humble yet assertive leader. I can go on and on but these were what stuck out the most in my first viewing.
    Reply
  • By Tom H.
    March 02, 2010
    06:52 PM

    My first Kurosawa was The Seven Samurai. I had been heavily drinking when I saw it late one night on TCM. I picked up the DVD soon after and happily I enjoyed it more when I was sober!
    Reply
  • By Alex
    March 02, 2010
    07:07 PM

    The first one I saw was "Ikiru." I think it was about two years ago. I had rented the DVD from my public library, and watched it on my computer in my bedroom.
    Reply
  • By Andrew H.
    March 02, 2010
    07:17 PM

    SEVEN SAMURAI. When I was younger there was this movie at a local video store that always got my attention but for some reason I never got around to renting. For years, when ever my parents took to that store I'd always walk by this tape and look at the box but I still never rented it. When I got a little older I started to think the man on the cover was actor Takashi Shimura, being a huge Godzilla fan I was familiar with some of his work. When I realized that is WAS Shimura on the cover I just had to rent this movie, just to see him in something without giant monsters destroying Tokyo in it. I was around 13 or 14 years old. My Dad and I watched it in one sitting, despite being a little intimidated by the over 3 1/2 hour length of the film which covered two VHS tapes (most video stores still didn't carry a lot of DVDs back then). When the film opened with the TOHO logo at the beginning and I started reconized some of the actors from other Godzilla movies I've seen, it gave me a feeling of both nostalgia and excitement. Seeing these actors in a very surious movie without rubber monster in sight was like seeing peers at a class reunion. I fell in love with Seven Samurai before the first tape ended. It is such a beautiful and powerful movie that to try to describe it in words is simply pointless. Seven Samurai is one of those films that you don't watch, you experience it.
    Reply
  • By davelikesfish
    March 02, 2010
    07:35 PM

    I remember it was in 1992. I rented The Hidden Fortress to watch with Atsuko, a girl from Japan I was dating. I thought she would be impressed that I watched Japanese movies. She wasn't very impressed but I was. I started renting Kurosawa films almost evry weekend!
    Reply
  • By davelikesfish
    March 02, 2010
    07:39 PM

    Did you get my post?
    Reply
  • By davelikesfish
    March 02, 2010
    07:47 PM

    I remember it was 1992. I rented The Hidden Fortress to watch with Atsuko, a girl from Japan that I was dating. I thought it would impress her that I watched Japanese films. She wasn't very impressed but I was. I started renting Kurosawa films almost every weekend!
    Reply
  • By Samuel A.
    March 02, 2010
    07:49 PM

    The first Kurosawa film I saw was The Hidden Fortress. I remember reading an interview with George Lucas on how much an influence The Hidden Fortress had on with writing of Star Wars. From the princess, to how the film is shown from the perspective of the least important characters. This was about 1989, and I remember finding a VHS copy in the video store and watched it that night. From then on I was hooked.
    Reply
  • By ZebulonPike
    March 02, 2010
    08:00 PM

    The first Kurosawa film I saw was A Bug's Life, about a decade ago now. An animation, appealing to not only the children but the child in all of us. I was struck by its moving, potent story, its strong sense of character, portrayal of right and wrong, good and evil and most of all, the beauty of its spirit. A decent number of years later I saw my second, The Magnificent Seven. My correlation to A Bug's Life was almost instantaneous, again not just in its outstanding depiction of selfless courage, or the starkly contrasting morality of its characters, but the everlasting spirit of the picture. When for the first time I finally saw a true Akira Kurosawa film I realized why the relation between the pictures was so evident. The film was Seven Samurai, and my understanding of cinema was changed forever. No, the first two pictures were not his films in any literal sense, and viewing his sweeping masterpiece affirmed that. But at least I now understood why those films struck the same chord three times in a row. I could finally name the spirit: Akira Kurosawa living on through not only decades of cinema, but across countries and genres as well.
    Reply
  • By will
    March 02, 2010
    08:43 PM

    My first Kurosawa was the tour de force that is Rashomon. I was a budding film connoisseur, which means since I started seeking out "films," I had heard nothing but great things about Kurosawa. I was lucky enough to catch Rashomon on IFC during my high school years. I was blown away by the multiple POV story that Kurosawa weaves and totally taken aback by the ultimately hopeful ending in such a dark film. Kurosawa was able to lead the viewer down an incredibly dark path for the majority of the film and then end on a very high note without being too sentimental or cheesy. I was hooked from then on.
    Reply
  • By tholly
    March 02, 2010
    10:54 PM

    My first Kurosawa film was Seven Samurai on DVD. I was just getting into art house, foreign, and independent films and had recently learned about the Criterion Collection. I had 3 or 4 other Criterion movies and was instantly hooked. I looked up information constantly about the collection and determined that my next purchase would be this 207 minute black and white samurai movie that I had never heard of just a few months prior. The day I got it, I quickly popped it into my DVD player and I watched it alone while relaxing on an old beat up 19" tv. Soon after, my collection has grown to almost 300 Criterion titles and my tv has improved to a much nicer 56" HDTV. I have to say that my appreciation and understanding of film has changed greatly, and for the better, thanks to the Criterion Collection. Keep up the good work! (And please send me that free DVD.....I don't have that one yet.)
    Reply
  • By Kanoa P.
    March 02, 2010
    10:59 PM

    Seven Samurai. It was a masterpiece of great proportions and I was forever moved by it. I watched it on a normal dvd and I promptly bought Seven Samurai on Criterion which was way better
    Reply
  • By Matt Kovar
    March 02, 2010
    11:43 PM

    The Kurosawa film that I remember seeing first was "Yomjmbo." Having, at the time, recently seen Sergio Leone's "Fistful of Dollars" I became excited to see the film it was inspired by. I got ahold of a copy of "Yojimbo" and put it on. I remember being sucked in from the credits. With the shots against his back and the beautiful surrounding country underscored by that great music. I'd never really watched much Japanese cinema prior to that, and before the credits were over I has wondered why that was. When Kurosawa's name popped up on the credits I instantly recognized it, but I could not remember from where or which film. I think I'd heard of him at some time or other, but for whatever the reason I had never checked out his work. "Yomjimbo" hooked me.
    Reply
  • By Matt Kovar
    March 02, 2010
    11:43 PM

    The Kurosawa film that I remember seeing first was "Yomjmbo." Having, at the time, recently seen Sergio Leone's "Fistful of Dollars" I became excited to see the film it was inspired by. I got ahold of a copy of "Yojimbo" and put it on. I remember being sucked in from the credits. With the shots against his back and the beautiful surrounding country underscored by that great music. I'd never really watched much Japanese cinema prior to that, and before the credits were over I has wondered why that was. When Kurosawa's name popped up on the credits I instantly recognized it, but I could not remember from where or which film. I think I'd heard of him at some time or other, but for whatever the reason I had never checked out his work. "Yomjimbo" hooked me.
    Reply
  • By paul
    March 03, 2010
    10:16 AM

    The first Kurosawa movie I ever saw was the Seven Samourais. I did not know what to expect because I had never heard of Kurosawa or his legacy. There was something about it that made get goosebumps. It was a very medetational (I know that word does not exist) experience. Lost of people might not agree, but I like to compare this movie to Solaris (1972). Theres something about Kurosawa's movies that is magical, something that makes people have such a deep passion in film. After watching the movie, I started to cry, I was so moved emotionnaly. Thats when I feel in love with Kurosawa as a director.
    Reply
  • By Billy R.
    March 03, 2010
    11:38 AM

    I was at a movie store, holding Breathless and Seven Samurai in each hand, trying to decide which to buy. I asked a guy working there who told me Seven Samurai "didn't blow me away." I asked him about Breathless, and he said, "I think it's french." I thanked him for his help and bought both. Good decision. I watched Seven Samurai that night with my roommates and they were all asleep before the first disc was over, but I was on the edge of my seat the whole time. Kurasawa and Mifune had blown me away. (Breathless was also my first Godard experience, and oh man. I wouldn't have a girlfriend if it weren't for that movie.)
    Reply
  • By Brandon J.
    March 03, 2010
    11:47 AM

    I watched Rashomon alone in my home, without any prior knowledge of what it was about. I kind of expected an action movie with a little substance. Needless to say, I was blown away by the depth and insightfulness of the film. Hooked since then, but making my way through his collection slowly. Loved Ran, Seven Samurai, Yojimbo, looking forward to seeing more.
    Reply
  • By German G.
    March 03, 2010
    01:55 PM

    Seven samurai, I remember I saw very late in the night in a public channel, I got impressed the fight scenes, serenity of the samurai. How Kurosawa took from the Western films and vice versa. Great shadows creating a dark atmosphere that was much better than colors. Always serious characters showing us (western) the philosophy of the Bushido. Great Movie!
    Reply
  • By Colin Morgan
    March 06, 2010
    07:02 PM

    My first (and at the moment, only, though that will change soon) Kurosawa is High and Low. And, oh my God, the film might have have been almost 2 1/2 hours, but it felt more like five minutes went by after I was done watching it. That's how absorbed I ws in the film, and I've only experienced that with very few films.
    Reply