• 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).

19 comments

  • By Kevin L.
    March 15, 2010
    05:11 PM

    Rashomon, because it's like 4 movies in one.
    Reply
  • By JediFonger
    March 15, 2010
    05:29 PM

    assuming that there is unlimited electricity, TV&Blu-Ray player that will never break down ever, i'd grab Seven Samurai (Blu-Ray coming late this year from Criterion). everytime i watch this almost 4 hour epic, i reap and gleam more and more information. there is so much to unpack because of Kurosawa's genius and mastery of mis en scene (something we do NOT see in modern films anymore). furthermore, it's everything that film is. action, romance, tragedy, comedy, shakespearean, pathos, bathos and so on.
    Reply
  • By Rob K.
    March 15, 2010
    05:29 PM

    If stranded on a desert island, it would have to be Seven Samurai because I'd finally have the time to watch all the supplements.
    Reply
  • By Aric V.
    March 15, 2010
    06:11 PM

    I'd have to take Seven Samurai. It was the first Kurosawa film I ever saw and it would only be fitting for it to be the last I would ever see.
    Reply
  • By Billy R.
    March 15, 2010
    06:38 PM

    Seven Samurai. Not only would I be able to lose myself in it for three and a half hours at a time, but no other film has such an incredible ability to make one less lonely. Seven Samurai isn't so long simply because it's "an epic." Every second of that movie is intentional. It allows you to really, really know every character in it. How many movies immediately throw tons of characters at you, leaving you floundering in all these strangers that mean nothing to you? No so with Seven Samurai. Each new addition to the "magnificent 7" gets at least an entire scene, and we can immediately identify them all. After only the first hour of the film, we can connect to these ronin. As it progresses, you really know them. The first time I watched the film, I stopped at the intermission. When I picked back up the next day, I felt like I was coming home, and seeing friends I hadn't seen in a while. There's a wonderful familiarity to the movie. Cinematically, Kurosawa uses this familiarity to build emotional intensity as it progresses, making the end particularly affecting. But on a desert island, this familiarity serves a different purpose. Whenever I would begin to get lonely, I could say "I wonder what mischief Kikuchiyo is getting into today." Whenever I would need good advice and wisdom, I could watch Kambei talking to...well, anyone. Whenever I would need comfort, I could fast-forward to that beautiful, beautiful rain. Seven Samurai. It actually makes a desert island sound not so bad.
    Reply
  • By Ryan Estabrooks
    March 15, 2010
    06:50 PM

    My Kurosawa desert island film would have to be "Seven Samurai". If I was on a desert island for a long time, I would start to become delusional and maybe even start hallucinating, which means whatever movie I watch, I'm going to think I'm actually IN it. And if that's the case, I want to hallucinate that I'm a part of the Seven Samurai protecting folks and cutting up evil doers with my mighty samurai sword. The island wouldn't seem so lonely if I believed I was a part of seven noble samurai.
    Reply
  • By Churchgonewild
    March 15, 2010
    06:52 PM

    I'd say "The Quiet Duel", because it'd make me think "Wow, I don't really have it that bad do I?".
    Reply
  • By Brent S.
    March 15, 2010
    07:05 PM

    I would choose RAN for several reasons, some aesthetic, others practical: 1. Well, it's my favorite film of his--the music, the vivid colors, the shifts in tone between playful and deadly, that final haunting but poetic image of a blind man ambling about at the edge of a cliff. All of these elements combine to make a film that remains rewarding after many repeat viewings, which apparently I will have a lot of time for. 2. The film is quite long, but doesn't feel like it, which would make it an ideal way to pass the time while deserted. 3. It would probably give me some valuable pointers on how to hunt, kill, and prepare wild boar and other animals that might be indigenous to the island. 4. In all sincerity, the Criterion cover art for RAN has to be in the top 5 or so of the upper echelon of Criterion covers. As a civilian, I have already spent countless minutes staring into its deep, colorful pools of paint splatter, searching for some greater meaning behind the blots. As a deserted island inhabitant, I am sure it would provide many, many more such minutes of enlightenment. It is truly a work of art unto itself. 5. I believe that other than IKIRU, this is the only other Criterion Kurosawa release that is in those double wide cases, which of course means more surface area of plastic. Though it would pain me to do so, if it came down to it, the case could perhaps be reimagined into some sort of crude piece of furniture or flotation device, or could be dismantled into sharp plastic shards, which could serve as weapons in the hunting of wild boar. (See item 3.) 6. As we all know, the Criterion version of RAN is sadly out of print, and so I assume would grant me the most leverage in a bartering situation with anyone else I might run into on the island. Though of course, they will have to pry it from my cold, dead hands.
    Reply
  • By hihuy
    March 15, 2010
    07:51 PM

    Seven Samurai -because it's one of his longest films and a frame of a Kurosawa film can be more entertaining than a whole film by a lesser director. Also, it would be the most fun to reenact the scenes from...
    Reply
  • By Michel
    March 15, 2010
    08:09 PM

    My choice would have to be Ikiru. Aside from being my favorite Kurosawa , I find it to be his film that affected me the most on a personnal level. It is a constant reminder of life's worth and impermanence. If there were ever a time to be reminded of that(to kick one's survival instinct in high gear) would be on a desert island...
    Reply
  • By Andrew H.
    March 15, 2010
    08:12 PM

    HIgh and Low. Out of all of Kurosawa's masterpieces, High and Low is not only my favorite but it still manages, after many viewings, to gets the strongest emotinal reactions out of me. It is a masterpiece in the truest sense of the word.
    Reply
  • By Karen M.
    March 15, 2010
    08:20 PM

    It would be an excruciating process to choose a single Kurosawa film to watch for the rest of my life, as I love them all so much and I would never want to part with the rest, but if I were forced to choose, I suppose I would go with "Seven Samurai". A masterpiece in any sense of the word, this film is what made me love Kurosawa originally and it is truly a miracle of filmmaking. Within its nearly four hours of length one may find countless new details with each viewing, and it stands as the rare film that never gets old. Of course, one could say that about nearly any Kurosawa film, and that is what makes his legacy so special. Truly, one could randomly choose from a list of Kurosawa films and, no matter what one lands on, he or she would have a timeless work of art to treasure for all time. So I guess the choice isn't so hard really, as all choices have equally positive outcomes.
    Reply
  • By Thomas W.
    March 15, 2010
    10:42 PM

    Ran, because there's nary a better way to pass time on a better way than watching a fool - and his jester.
    Reply
  • By Thomas W.
    March 15, 2010
    10:43 PM

    ^ Strike that, it should have read: "Ran, because there's nary a better way to pass time on a desert island than watching a fool - and his jester."
    Reply
  • By akbaier
    March 16, 2010
    12:35 AM

    On a desert island, it's pretty much you against everything else. To survive you'll need to be alert, adaptable and street smart or in this case island smart. So my desert island Kurosawa movie would be Sanjuro. The character Sanjuro is a lone traveler, a wanderer in new areas, able to succeed when challenges are thrown at him and within the challenges are always a change in tides that he can quickly adapt to. The movie won't necessarily won't be a tutorial or how to video to make it in a desert island but hopefully an inspiration on how you can always try to stay ahead of the obstacles thrown at you. Of course I might fail but maybe with Sanjuro's spirit I'll have a little fun trying.
    Reply
  • By tholly
    March 16, 2010
    12:40 AM

    High and Low I bought this movie without reading the synopsis or knowing anything about the film. I put it in my DVD player and sat down expecting just an average movie. 143 minutes later and I was sitting on the edge of my seat completely riveted to the image on the screen. High and Low is a fabulous film I could watch again and again.
    Reply
  • By Bret B.
    March 16, 2010
    01:28 AM

    I'd pick Seven Samurai. Not only is Seven Samurai my favorite Kurosawa movie, it's probably my all time favorite movie! It's hard to find any other movie that has effected me as much and as deeply as Seven samurai. But the thing I love so much about Seven Samurai is that it effects me deeply, but in a way that no other movie that I've seen has even came close to doing! And that's because it presents to me seven different characters and I can relate to them all. I have qualities about myself that directly relates to each samurai in the movie. That's why it has moved me so much. Without a doubt in my mind, Seven Samurai would be the the movie (not just a Kurosawa movie but out of any movie) I'd take to the island with me.
    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 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