The illustrious résumé of Tatsuya Nakadai doubles as a snapshot of Japanese cinema in its golden age. Starting in the 1950s, the wildly prolific actor made a career out of shape-shifting, amassing credits in a wide range of films that run the gamut from devastating humanist tragedies to breathtaking action and science fiction. Now eighty-four, Nakadai paid a visit to New York late last year, and while in town he stopped by the Criterion office to talk with East Asian cinema scholar Aaron Gerow about five of the master filmmakers who shepherded some of his finest performances to the screen: Masaki Kobayashi, Akira Kurosawa, Mikio Naruse, Kihachi Okamoto, and Hiroshi Teshigahara. Today, we’re premiering that conversation on the Criterion Channel along with a series of nine classics that showcase the actor at the height of his powers. In the below excerpt, Nakadai sheds light on one of his most iconic moments as a samurai hero, recounting his experience shooting his blood-gushing climactic face-off with Toshiro Mifune in Kurosawa’s Sanjuro.
John Schlesinger’s Cinema of Failures and Outcasts
A gay man in an age when homosexuality was against the law in his native Britain, the Oscar-winning director eschewed political statements in favor of compassionate portrayals of the human condition.
The Lurid Intensity of Shock Corridor’s Long Takes
In the latest episode of Observations on Film Art, now playing on the Criterion Channel, Professor Jeff Smith breaks down the audacious style of one of Samuel Fuller’s most provocative works.