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A combination biography filmography of both Kurosawa and Mifune It s a huge book, and many of the films discussed are unavailable in English or outside of Japan, if at all In some cases this is annoying some of them sound amazing and useful since your chances of finding them is basically nonexistent so some info is better than none Galbraith goes to great lengths to paint Kurosawa and Mifune as the complex individuals that they are no simple good guy vs bad guy portraits while A combination biography filmography of both Kurosawa and Mifune It s a huge book, and many of the films discussed are unavailable in English or outside of Japan, if at all In some cases this is annoying some of them sound amazing and useful since your chances of finding them is basically nonexistent so some info is better than none Galbraith goes to great lengths to paint Kurosawa and Mifune as the complex individuals that they are no simple good guy vs bad guy portraits while not sugar coating their sometimes horrible behaviors If you re a fan of either man and or their films, you ll probably want to at least read through it Be warned it s a huge, heavy book Not for the dilettante and you may well want to skip through large chunks of this film is unavailable sections The Emperor and the Wolf is an ambitious dual biography that succeeds to varying degrees depending on what you are expecting from it I think there are five main areas that the author attempted to cover in this 600 page treatise 1 The professional works of Akira Kurosawa2 The professional works of Toshiro Mifune3 Japanese Cinema from the 1940 s through the 1980 s4 The personal life of Akira Kurosawa5 The personal life of Toshiro Mifune I ve used numbers instead of bullet points, because The Emperor and the Wolf is an ambitious dual biography that succeeds to varying degrees depending on what you are expecting from it I think there are five main areas that the author attempted to cover in this 600 page treatise 1 The professional works of Akira Kurosawa2 The professional works of Toshiro Mifune3 Japanese Cinema from the 1940 s through the 1980 s4 The personal life of Akira Kurosawa5 The personal life of Toshiro Mifune I ve used numbers instead of bullet points, because the amount of time spent on each of these topics is very uneven, which seemed to be the author s intention For example, I would estimate that 45% of the book is about topic number 1, 30% topic number 2, 10% about topic number 3, 10% topic number 4 and 5% topic number 5 For that reason, if you are mainly interested in how the films of these two individuals were made, what they were about, how much the cost, and what the critical and audience response to those films are, this is certainly the book for you If you are hoping for anecdotes about Kurosawa s personal life, his parenting, or his suicide attempt, you will have to dig through copious amounts of information about the plots of films he co wrote or the resumes of actors he used in small parts to get a glimpse of it There is also muchwritten about Kurosawa than Mifune in this book, which is likely to be expected considering their statures in the history of cinema Even prior to their careers however, there is muchinformation on Kurosawa s early life than Mifune s, whose early years in China are tacked on to an extensive Kurosawa chapter as a seeming afterthought Despite the disparity in content about the two, some interesting similarities were still present, such as both men being able to avoid conflict in World War II Kurosawa by being medically ineligible, Mifune being stuck working with airplane cameras Kurosawa was able to become a director much younger than many of his contemporaries that went into the field at Toho, new directors apprenticed at being 2nd and 3rd assistant directors for years before being allowed to direct by being recommended for an opening and taking advantage of it Similarly, Mifune was able to jump to the front of the movie star line by earning Kurosawa s favor at a fresh face audition this was one of the better stories in the book, as Mifune s anger confused the original judges on the panel, but Kurosawa saw it as potential unlike anybody else he had seen Both individuals early careers are often forgotten or unknown to casual fans of Japanese cinema, with only their massive successes together really permeating American culture films like Seven Samurai, Yojimbo, Sanjuro, Hidden Fortress and High and Low have either been seen by cinema junkies or been programmed into our brains by their American remakes and homages This book did a nice job of educating me on some of those earliest films, such as Sanshiro Sugata for Kurosawa and Snow Trail for Mifune On Snow Trail, for example, Mifune believed he was only hired because it was a dangerous mountain shoot and he was expendable in case he died during the shoot there may have been some truth to that as in addition to acting he had to carry 100lbs of gear up with him before they could film While both individuals had fame and acclaim in Japan by the time films like Scandal were made, it was not until Rashomon was released that both became well known to international audiences as well The most interesting stories recalled in this book were related to Seven Samurai, my favorite Kurosawa film along with Sanjuro A film that is about three hours long and tells the story of samurais recruited by farmers to protect their village, and ending with one of the most comprehensible battles scenes ever filmed was the end product of a 500 page script, detailing the history of every farmer, with details planned ahead of time as minute as cutting a characters hair in his first scene to illustrate the passage of time passed in the film by the regrowth of his hair in each subsequent appearance Taking one year to film by a company that routinely released over a hundred films a year , at the time it was released it was the longest and most expensive film in Japanese history While I enjoyed the detailed histories of the films, and the critical analysis of both figures both at the time of their work and in retrospect , the lack of personal information about both men was a disappointment for me Tidbits such as that Mifune would never use an assistant, preferred to do things himself on films, or that he was considered kind by his co stars, and always knew his lines were interesting, but they tended to addto what sort of actor he was than what sort of person he was Similarly, a break from discussing films to discuss Kurosawa buying a new house after High and Low was actually jarring in that it deviated the book s pattern of discussing pre production, movie plot, production and critical reception The things I really wanted to know about these two men prior to reading this book involved their downfalls Both enjoyed their largest successes working with each other, but despite that, they seemingly avoided each other for the last thirty years of their lives and had their worst critical and financial projects after going on their own While definitive reasons and answers are never shared by either individual, the turning point for Kurosawa seemed to be his work on Tora Tora Tora What was to be Kurosawa s first work on an American picture ended up with him being removed and accused of having mental problems Besides being his first American picture, it would have been his first picture in color and first with a new crew of non Toho regulars The result seems to be both a difficult situation for the director and a genuine breakdown on his part if daily set reports are to be believed In addition to that, he also had a dishonest translator dealing with the United States parent company The result was Kurosawa s temporary fall from grace, and by the time he was making films again, he believed that Mifune s quality of work had slipped Although scheduling problems was the official reason for the two not working together and Mifune s own production company certainly kept him busy it seemedlikely it was Kurosawa s resentment for Mifune appearing in to his mind subpar stuff like Shogun that disinterested him in his favorite leading actor Despite the massive scope of this dual biography, I think it could have benefitted from one substantial addition accompanied by a corresponding major subtraction Instead of the extensive plot summaries of every movie in both individual s filmographies, adding a third individual to the subject matter in the form of Takashi Shimura would have provided some excellent contrast While Mifune gained acclaim by starring in 16 of Kurosawa s 30 films, his co star in all of them was Takashi Shimura who acted in 21 of Kurosawa s films, including starring in Ikiru one of Kurosawa s masterpieces that is focused on significantly in this book without Mifune Shimura also continued to act for Kurosawa through Kagemusha and had as interesting of a career outside of Kurosawa s films that Mifune did appearing inZatoichi films than Mifune, two Godzilla films, and in successful Kurosawa less Mifune films like Samurai III Dual at Ganryu Island In addition to that, he was a father figure to Mifune and was close enough to him that when Mifune was dying in a hospital, Shimura s widow was one of only 2 non relatives allowed to see him More than any other person, I associate him with Kurosawa and Mifune, and while mentioned frequently in this book his depiction as just the most common of Kurosawa s stock actors seemed to shortchange him from his role as the other face of Kurosawa s best films This book is MASSIVE I bought it back when it first came out and then stopped reading it because I felt like I was ruining the viewing experience for myself with the Kurosawa Mifune films that I have yet to watch.Someday I will have watched all of them and then I will finish reading the book I m a nerd like that. A filmography in the guise of biography. [ FREE ] ⚖ The Emperor and the Wolf: The Lives and Films of Akira Kurosawa and Toshiro Mifune ⚔ Akira Kurosawa and Toshiro Mifune made sixteen feature films together, including Rashomon, Seven Samurai, and Yojimbo all undisputed masterworks of world cinema The Emperor and the Wolf is an in depth look at these two great artists and their legacy that brims with behind the scenes details, many never before known, about their tumultuous lives and stormy relationships with the studios and with one another More than just a biography, though, The Emperor and the Wolf is also an impromptu history of Japanese cinema its development, filmmakers, and performers and a provocative look at postwar American and Japanese culture and the different lenses through which two great societies viewed each other If you re looking for biographical information on these two towering figures, then assume an extra star I wasn t interested in the biographical stuff myself I just wanted to read about some of the greatest movies ever made That stuff is excellent, by the way I like that theunderrated bits of Mifune s filmography the stuff without Kurosawa gets proper attention, particularly Samurai Rebellion, one of my very faorite films I could condense a 100 150 page book out of this that I d re r If you re looking for biographical information on these two towering figures, then assume an extra star I wasn t interested in the biographical stuff myself I just wanted to read about some of the greatest movies ever made That stuff is excellent, by the way I like that theunderrated bits of Mifune s filmography the stuff without Kurosawa gets proper attention, particularly Samurai Rebellion, one of my very faorite films I could condense a 100 150 page book out of this that I d re read constantly, but as it is I have to skip over a bunch of stuff that doesn t matter to me to get to those bits Maybe someday I ll have a Kindle edition, so I can just bookmark all the important stuff But yes, well written and researched, just meantfor other folks than for me, I think Phew, what a story This tome is indispensable for anyone with any interest in Akira Kurosawa and Toshiro Mifune, and it offers valuable insights into the development of Japanese cinema as a whole from the end of the Second World War through the end of the 20th century And while it s possible to question some of Galbraith s judgments I like Kagemusha and Scandal a lotthan Galbraith seems to he has opened my eyes to Kurosawa films I had no idea I wanted to see especially Madadayo Phew, what a story This tome is indispensable for anyone with any interest in Akira Kurosawa and Toshiro Mifune, and it offers valuable insights into the development of Japanese cinema as a whole from the end of the Second World War through the end of the 20th century And while it s possible to question some of Galbraith s judgments I like Kagemusha and Scandal a lotthan Galbraith seems to he has opened my eyes to Kurosawa films I had no idea I wanted to see especially Madadayo and After the Rain Incidentally, Bosley Crowther, the New York Times movie reviewer, was a bit of an idiot There aren t enough books on both Kurosawa and Mifune, two legends of Japanese cinema You can t go wrong with this it isof a biography of their work than their lives, but it s the best out there at the minute Well worth a read. Invaluable resource in learningabout Toshiro Mifune and Akira Kurosawa, great book. Big book