Of the thirty features Akira Kurosawa directed during his lengthy cinematic career, thirteen have been issued by the BFI on DVD to date. With the release of their Classic Kurosawa boxed set they’ve gone back through this batch and offered up five examples. Admittedly, the title isn’t strictly true – any collection of classics would surely need to encompass Seven Samurai, Rashomon and Yojimbo - but it does offer an intriguing cross-section for both the scholar and the newcomer. Of course, if you’re one of the former then it’s likely that you’ve already picked up at least some of the titles contained herein, but for the novice there are some rich pickings.
Both Kurosawa’s modern day and period pictures are covered as are his working relationships with both Toshiro Mifune and Takashi Shimura. In Throne of Blood and Ikiru we find two genuine masterpieces. With Stray Dog we’re able to witness the director’s formidable handling of genre. Red Beard demonstrates his overall skill via a three-hour medical soap opera. And I Live in Fear is something of a film maudit, perhaps the most undervalued film of his career and consequently one of his most desirable.
As such the various dimensions receive coverage whilst also whetting the appetites. Had the set included all of the classics, then it’d be all downhill from here. As it is, however, it encourages an investigation in the viewer to seek out the various other corners of Kurosawa’s career – and as far as I’m concerned that should be an essential for any themed boxed set. Indeed, if you wish to investigate further yourself then please click on the sleeve images below to find full reviews of all five films contained in the set…