BLU-RAY REVIEW: AKIRA KUROSAWA, SAMURAI COLLECTION / CERT: 12 / DIRECTOR: AKIRA KUROSAWA / SCREENPLAY: VARIOUS / STARRING: TOSHIRO MIFUNE, ISUZU YAMADA, MISA UEHARA / RELEASE DATE: OUT NOW
To review this collection presents a quandary – what else is there to be said about these five established samurai masterpieces: Seven Samurai, Hidden Fortress, Throne of Blood, Yojimbo and Sanjuro? For anyone who has yet to discover the celluloid dreams of Akira Kurosawa, this collection offers a fine introduction, whilst for everyone else, words are scarcely needed as superlatives have long since followed the very mention of the director's name.
Between them Seven Samurai, Hidden Fortress and Yojimbo are the source of inspiration for three popular classics – The Magnificent Seven, A Fistful of Dollars and Star Wars – and in order to fully appreciate these films one needs to look back to the cinema of Kurosawa and encounter the original stories. But Kurosawa was himself a filmmaker inspired by foreign culture, as is apparent in Throne of Blood, a movie that relocates Shakespeare's Macbeth to feudal Japan.
Furthermore, this collection presents only one side of this legendary filmmaker. Outside of his samurai films he also contributed masterworks to Japanese noir – High and Low, Stray Dog and The Bad Sleep Well. Meanwhile his seminal drama Ikiru shows yet another side to this storyteller. His films endure because he explored the scope of cinematic narrative – from the chaos of spectacle to a tranquil intimacy; from the cries of war to the silent voice of his characters.
Extras: Audio commentaries / Introductions by George Lucas and Alex Cox / 49-minute discussion of the director by Tony Rayns / Booklet