Today we mourn the loss of Donald Richie, writer, critic, curator, cultural explorer, and my friend since 2001. I met him when he came to New York to record a commentary track for our DVD edition of Rashomon. It was the beginning of our friendship and of many collaborations. Over the years, we recorded Donald’s insights about Yasujiro Ozu’s A Story of Floating Weeds, Mikio Naruse’s When a Woman Ascends the Stairs, Akira Kurosawa’s Seven Samurai, and Kon Ichikawa’s Fires on the Plain, to name just a few.
I visited Donald this past December in Tokyo, to say hello and, knowing he was declining, to say good-bye. He greeted me as he always did, with that incomparable smile and a slight twinkle in his eye. Donald taught me much about Japanese cinema, but that pales in comparison with what I learned from him in other ways. The first thing I did today was to look at this interview he did for us, about not a Japanese movie but Robert Bresson’s Au hasard Balthazar. Below are the beautiful final four-and-a-half minutes of that interview, which remind me what a humane man Donald was. I will miss him deeply.
Photo by Grant Delin, 2012.