Akira Kurosawa, the iconic Japanese film director and screenwriter whose career lasted 57 years, is wildly regarded as one of the most important and influential filmmakers in the history of cinema.
Recently Far Out brought you a posthumous, comprehensive list created by Kurosawa which details his top 100 favourite films of all time. That list was comprised by Kurosawa’s daughter, Kazuko, who managed to use information left behind by her father as part of the book Yume wa tensai de aru (A Dream is a Genius).
Following on from that, a list of Kurosawa’s favourite arthouse films in the Criterion Collection was made available. The collection, of course, is a famed film distribution company which focuses on licensing “important classic and contemporary films” before selling them to film aficionados and cinephiles.
Similarly to his top 100 list, Kurosawa has blended a mixture of films from his native Japan and combined them with more popular pictures from Europe and America. Notably, the inclusion of Wim Wenders’ film Paris, Texas features in both which completes a mutual admiration between the two filmmakers.
Interestingly, a young Wenders was once given the opportunity to interview Kurosawa for a film magazine. Focusing his questions predominantly on the technicality of cinema, Wenders asked: “‘Mr. Kurosawa, you let it rain really beautifully. How do you shoot it?” to which the great filmmaker responded: “To be honest, for me also such topics are more welcome, and we discussed it further. But the editors were pretty embarrassed.”
Here are favourite arthouse films in the Criterion Collection:
1. The Gold Rush, by Charlie Chaplin (1925)
2. The Threepenny Opera, by G. W. Pabst (1931)
3. Ivan the Terrible, by Sergei Eisenstein (1944-58)
4. Bicycle Thieves, by Vittorio De Sica (1948)
5. The Third Man, by Carol Reed (1949)
6. Late Spring, by Yasujiro Ozu (1949)
7. Orpheus, by Jean Cocteau (1950)
8. The Life of Oharu, by Kenji Mizoguchi (1952)
9. La strada, by Federico Fellini (1954)
10. Godzilla, by Ishiro Honda (1956)
11. Les cousins, by Claude Chabrol (1959)
12. The 400 Blows, by François Truffaut (1959)
13. Breathless, by Jean-Luc Godard (1960)
14. Purple Noon, by René Clément (1960)
15. Zazie dans le métro, by Louis Malle (1960)
16. Last Year at Marienbad, by Alain Resnais (1961)
17. Red Desert, by Michelangelo Antonioni (1964)
18. Solaris, by Andrei Tarkovsky (1972)
19. The Spirit of the Beehive, by Víctor Erice (1973)
20. Fanny and Alexander Box Set, by Ingmar Bergman (1982)
21. Paris, Texas, by Wim Wenders (1984)
Swedish director Bergman, who is also included for his film Fanny and Alexander Box Set, once called his own film The Virgin Spring “touristic, a lousy imitation of Kurosawa” and, amazingly, added: “At that time my admiration for the Japanese cinema was at its height. I was almost a samurai myself.”