Toshiro Mifune: The Last Samurai
I discovered Akira Kurosawa, the renowned Japanese filmmaker, during the first year of my undergraduate studies at the University of Alberta. I was bored and frustrated with my life, and stumbled upon his work at the local public library. I started with Seven Samurai, and then worked myself through Rashomon, Yojimbo, Ran, and others fairly quickly. Then I watched them again. And then a few times more. Kurosawa’s films turned out to be the therapy I needed to get through the shit in my life.
If you are familiar with Kurosawa, then you know about Toshiro Mifune, the Japanese actor often cast as the lead in his films. Mifune made his debut in a Kurosawa film, and the two ended up making 15 films together, including my favourite Sanjuro. As Kursoawa’s filmmaking style revolutionized the world of cinema, so did Mifune through his acting. Mifune brought an emotional authenticity and sensibility to his roles that has influenced a generation of actors, including Paul Newman and Clint Eastwood
The life and legacy of Mifune is explored in a new documentary called Mifune: The Last Samurai. It hasn’t been released in Canada yet, but here is filmmaker Steven Okazaki discussing the impact of Mifune, as well as a Daily Beast run down on the documentary.