KUROSAWA FILMS AND SAMURAI’S BLOOD

By : June 2, 2011 : CategoryBenaroya Publishing, Samurai's Blood

As the writer of SAMURAI’S BLOOD, I must at all points acknowledge a debt to the films of Akira Kurosawa. I grew up on Kurosawa movies. I first saw ‘Ran’ when I was in middle school, and I was struck by the incredible combination of elements that he had managed to tie into his story. Kurosawa used Shakespeare’s ‘King Lear’ as inspiration for the film, and I could see even then (though I couldn’t quite understand it yet) the incredible things that could be done through a fusion of East and West.

I sought out more Kurosawa movies. I watched ‘Yojimbo’ and ‘Sanjuro’. I watched ‘The Hidden Fortress’ (And suddenly ‘Star Wars’ seemed less original). Yet the films of his that I liked best, like ‘Ran’ and ‘Throne of Blood’, were the ones where he combined East and West. I rewatched his movies a lot growing up. I was definitely more obsessed with them than I was with manga or anime. I finally decided that it was because I liked the pace of them. The epic stories combined with a deliberate, tense pace did more to make my nerves tingle than did the frenetic energy of other uniquely Japanese picture art.

I left Kurosawa’s films behind for a while, when I went to college and buried myself in the great western minds like Nietzche and Heidegger. I graduated and came to Hollywood, and when my good friend suggested an idea for a story about three young samurai bent on vengeance, I remembered Kurosawa once again.

When I watched his films as an adult, it became crystal clear to me what it was that I had always loved about his movies: The ideas. Kurosawa is a master filmmaker, no question, but his craft pales in comparison to the sheer brilliance of his mind. East or West became unimportant, because all elements of his stories moved in orbit around his central conception of life and death.

That is my ultimate goal for SAMURAI’S BLOOD. The ideas of the samurai masters shine as bright today as ever they did. Perhaps brighter, for all else that has fallen away since the days of the masters ended. The samurai conception of life and death is a strange one, judged by the standards of the modern mind, but its very strangeness is what makes it so interesting, and so useful. It is not something that can be communicated directly. SAMURAI’S BLOOD is my humble attempt to sketch an outline.