Akira Kurosawa painting the set of Dodes’ka-den.
Kurosawa: Many, many years ago (I can’t remember exactly when), the then-head of the Cinémathèque Française, Henri Langlois, took me aside and told me that I had to make films in color. He showed me Eisenstein’s Ivan the Terrible and said, “Look, Eisenstein was doing this many years ago and getting very good results. You must try.” But I felt at the time that the technology of color film wasn’t good enough for what I wanted to do, and that’s why I kept making black-and-white films. But I was inspired by what Langlois said—and I did want to try—so I made Dodes’ka-den as a kind of color experiment. […] It was my first color film and I tried all kinds of things—even painting the ground, not to mention the sets. To deal with these characters in their very restricted setting, I had to use color as much as possible to bring out this setting. I was consciously being very experimental here.
Daisaku Kimura, first assistant cameraman on Dodes’ka-den: I thought he would be demanding about getting the colors he wanted, but he said nothing about that. On Dodes’ka-den, what he did was to use color without relying on the film stock itself. He painted every object to be filmed. He didn’t trust the film stock. He painted everything. The sunset in the film was created on a soundstage. He told us to paint it however we liked, so I joined in. But when Kurosawa tells you to paint, it makes you nervous. He was an artist himself, so everyone was nervous. But he said not to worry, to be like kids painting picture books, so we went ahead.