Directed by Akira Kurosawa

Directed by Akira Kurosawa

27 Episodes

The most celebrated Japanese filmmaker of all time, Akira Kurosawa produced a staggering body of work that stands as a monument of artistic achievement. Though best known for samurai epics like SEVEN SAMURAI and YOJIMBO, his intimate, contemporary-set dramas, such as IKIRU and HIGH AND LOW, are just as searing. The first serious phase of the director’s career came during the postwar era with DRUNKEN ANGEL and STRAY DOG, striking noirs that marked the beginning of his long-running collaboration with explosive leading man Toshiro Mifune. In the early 1950s, Kurosawa achieved worldwide fame with RASHOMON, a landmark in nonlinear storytelling that ignited international interest in Japanese cinema. In the years that followed, the auteur carried on a fruitful dialogue with the West, drawing on everything from Shakespeare to Dashiell Hammett and perfecting cinematic techniques that would prove influential to such disparate filmmakers as George Lucas and Sam Peckinpah. Kurosawa closed out his career with a string of late masterworks, including RAN and DREAMS, epic ruminations on human nature that make visionary use of color.

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Directed by Akira Kurosawa
  • Directed by Akira Kurosawa Teaser

    Episode 1

  • A Message from Akira Kurosawa: For Beautiful Movies

    Episode 2

    Produced by Kurosawa Production Inc. in 2000, this is an in-depth look at director Akira Kurosawa’s process, featuring interviews with the director.

  • Sanshiro Sugata

    Episode 3

    Directed by Akira Kurosawa • 1943 • Japan

    Kurosawa's effortless debut is based on a novel by Tsuneo Tomita about the rivalry between judo and jujitsu. Starring Susumu Fujita as the title character, Sanshiro Sugata is a thrilling martial arts action tale, but it's also a moving story of moral e...

  • The Most Beautiful

    Episode 4

    Directed by Akira Kurosawa • 1944 • Japan

    This portrait of female volunteer workers at an optics plant during World War II, shot on location at the Nippon Kogaku factory, was created with a patriotic agenda. Yet thanks to Akira Kurosawa's groundbreaking semidocumentary approach, The Most Beautif...

  • The Men Who Tread on the Tiger’s Tail

    Episode 5

    Directed by Akira Kurosawa • 1945 • Japan

    The fourth film from Akira Kurosawa is based on a legendary twelfth-century incident in which the lord Yoshitsune and a group of samurai retainers dressed as monks in order to pass through a dangerous enemy checkpoint. The story was dramatized for centur...

  • Sanshiro Sugata, Part Two

    Episode 6

    Directed by Akira Kurosawa • 1945 • Japan

    Kurosawa's first film was such a success that the studio leaned on the director to make a sequel. The result is a hugely entertaining adventure, reuniting most of the major players from the original and featuring a two-part narrative in which Sanshiro fi...

  • No Regrets for Our Youth

    Episode 7

    Directed by Akira Kurosawa • 1946 • Japan

    In Akira Kurosawa's first film after the end of World War II, future beloved Ozu regular Setsuko Hara gives an astonishing performance as Yukie, the only female protagonist in Kurosawa's body of work and one of his strongest heroes. Transforming hersel...

  • One Wonderful Sunday

    Episode 8

    Directed by Akira Kurosawa • 1947 • Japan

    Yuzo and his fiancée Masako spend their Sunday afternoon together, trying to have a good time on just thirty-five yen. They manage to have many small adventures, especially because Masako's optimism and belief in dreams is able to lift Yuzo from his real...

  • Drunken Angel

    Episode 9

    Directed by Akira Kurosawa • 1948 • Japan
    Starring Toshiro Mifune, Takashi Shimura

    In this powerful early noir from the great Akira Kurosawa, Toshiro Mifune bursts onto the screen as a volatile, tubercular criminal who strikes up an unlikely relationship with Takashi Shimura’s jaded physician. S...

  • Stray Dog

    Episode 10

    Directed by Akira Kurosawa • 1949 • Japan
    Starring Toshiro Mifune, Takashi Shimura

    A bad day gets worse for young detective Murakami when a pickpocket steals his gun on a hot, crowded bus. Desperate to right the wrong, he goes undercover, scavenging Tokyo’s sweltering streets for the stray dog w...

  • Rashomon

    Episode 11

    Directed by Akira Kurosawa • 1950 • Japan
    Starring Toshiro Mifune, Machiko Kyo, Masayuki Mori

    A riveting psychological thriller that investigates the nature of truth and the meaning of justice, RASHOMON is widely considered one of the greatest films ever made. Four people give different accou...

  • Scandal

    Episode 12

    Directed by Akira Kurosawa • 1950 • Japan

    A handsome, suave Toshiro Mifune lights up the screen as painter Ichiro, whose circumstantial meeting with a famous singer (Yoshiko Yamaguchi) is twisted by the tabloid press into a torrid affair. Ichiro files a lawsuit against the seedy gossip magazine,...

  • The Idiot

    Episode 13

    Directed by Akira Kurosawa • 1951 • Japan

    In post-World War II Japan, childlike veteran Kinji suffers from post-traumatic stress-induced seizures, and, after treatment at a mental health institution in Okinawa, he returns to his hometown. There he meets and becomes romantically caught up with tw...

  • Ikiru

    Episode 14

    Directed by Akira Kurosawa • 1952 • Japan
    Starring Takashi Shimura, Nobuo Kaneko, Kyoko Seki

    One of the greatest achievements by Akira Kurosawa, IKIRU shows the director at his most compassionate—affirming life through an exploration of death. Takashi Shimura beautifully portrays Kanji Watanabe,...

  • Seven Samurai

    Episode 15

    Directed by Akira Kurosawa • 1954 • Japan
    Starring Toshiro Mifune, Takashi Shimura, Keiko Tsushima

    One of the most thrilling movie epics of all time, SEVEN SAMURAI (SHICHININ NO SAMURAI) tells the story of a sixteenth-century village whose desperate inhabitants hire the eponymous warriors to pro...

  • I Live in Fear

    Episode 16

    Directed by Akira Kurosawa • 1955 • Japan
    Starring Toshiro Mifune, Minoru Chiaki

    Both the final film of this period in which Akira Kurosawa would directly wrestle with the demons of the Second World War and his most literal representation of living in an atomic age, the galvanizing I LIVE IN FEA...

  • Throne of Blood

    Episode 17

    Directed by Akira Kurosawa • 1957 • Japan
    Starring Toshiro Mifune, Isuzu Yamada, Minoru Chiaki

    A vivid, visceral “Macbeth” adaptation, THRONE OF BLOOD, directed by Akira Kurosawa, sets Shakespeare’s definitive tale of ambition and duplicity in a ghostly, fog-enshrouded landscape in feudal Japan....

  • The Lower Depths

    Episode 18

    Directed by Akira Kurosawa • 1957 • Japan
    Starring Toshiro Mifune, Isuzu Yamada, Kyoko Kagawa

    Jean Renoir and Akira Kurosawa, two of cinema’s greatest directors, transform Maxim Gorky’s classic proletariat play “The Lower Depths” in their own ways for their own times. Renoir, working amidst the ...

  • The Hidden Fortress

    Episode 19

    Directed by Akira Kurosawa • 1958 • Japan
    Starring Toshiro Mifune, Misa Uehara, Minoru Chiaki

    A grand-scale adventure as only Akira Kurosawa could make one, THE HIDDEN FORTRESS stars the inimitable Toshiro Mifune as a general charged with guarding his defeated clan’s princess (a fierce Misa Ueha...

  • The Bad Sleep Well

    Episode 20

    Directed by Akira Kurosawa • 1960 • Japan
    Starring Toshiro Mifune, Masayuki Mori, Tatsuya Mihashi

    A young executive hunts down his father’s killer in director Akira Kurosawa’s scathing THE BAD SLEEP WELL. Continuing his legendary collaboration with actor Toshiro Mifune, Kurosawa combines element...

  • Yojimbo

    Episode 21

    Directed by Akira Kurosawa • 1961 • Japan
    Starring Toshiro Mifune, Tatsuya Nakadai, Yoko Tsukasa

    The incomparable Toshiro Mifune stars in Akira Kurosawa’s visually stunning and darkly comic YOJIMBO. To rid a terror-stricken village of corruption, wily masterless samurai Sanjuro turns a range war...

  • Sanjuro

    Episode 22

    Directed by Akira Kurosawa • 1962 • Japan
    Starring Toshiro Mifune, Tatsuya Nakadai, Keiju Kobayashi

    Toshiro Mifune swaggers and snarls to brilliant comic effect in Akira Kurosawa’s tightly paced, beautifully composed SANJURO. In this sly companion piece to YOJIMBO, jaded samurai SANJURO helps an...

  • High and Low

    Episode 23

    Directed by Akira Kurosawa • 1963 • Japan
    Starring Toshiro Mifune, Kyoko Kagawa, Tatsuya Mihashi

    Toshiro Mifune is unforgettable as Kingo Gondo, a wealthy industrialist whose family becomes the target of a cold-blooded kidnapper in HIGH AND LOW (TENGOKU TO JIGOKU), the highly influential domesti...

  • Red Beard

    Episode 24

    Directed by Akira Kurosawa • 1965 • Japan
    Starring Toshiro Mifune, Yuzo Kayama, Yoshio Tsuchiya

    A testament to the goodness of humankind, Akira Kurosawa’s RED BEARD (AKAHIGE) chronicles the tumultuous relationship between an arrogant young doctor and a compassionate clinic director. Toshiro Mifu...