"The speed of his movements was such that he said in a single action what took ordinary actors three separate movements to express. He put forth everything directly and boldly, and his sense of timing was the keenest I had ever seen in a Japanese actor. And yet with all of his quickness he also had surprisingly fine sensibilities. […] I’m a person who is rarely impressed by actors, but in the case of Mifune I was completely overwhelmed." — Akira Kurosawa

"He is an artist, and he is demanding; a man more full, more whole, both more self-willed and more compassionate than most men are. It is from this understanding, this tact with life, that he draws his films, just as he draws from us, his actors, our best. I know. I have never as an actor done anything that I am proud of other than with him." — Toshiro Mifune

"Toward the end, when Mifune was in the hospital, I called one day at Kurosawa’s house. Kurosawa came into the parlor in his wheelchair. I had gotten word of Mifune’s condition, and when I reported this, Kurosawa said in a tone of nostalgia: ‘If I ever see Mifune again, I want to tell him what a good job he did. I want to praise him.’ How Mifune must have yearned to hear those words. But without his ever having had that chance, on Christmas Eve, 1997, at the age of seventy-seven, the turbulent life of Toshiro Mifune came to an end. Nine months later, on September 6, 1998, the death of the great filmmaker Akira Kurosawa was reported around the world, marking the end of an era. He was eighty-eight years old." — Teruyo Nogami


“I forget who said that films are desires visualized, but for me, at least, film is the visualization of the director’s desire. But the director’s desire doesn’t appear in the film directly. It appears in all kinds of convoluted forms. My fear that my desire will appear in my films has always caused me to be extremely wary of making films, hasn’t it? Haven’t I made films to hide my desires instead? Trying to hide them made them appear even more vividly.”
Nagisa OshimaMarch 31, 1932 – January 15, 2013

I forget who said that films are desires visualized, but for me, at least, film is the visualization of the director’s desire. But the director’s desire doesn’t appear in the film directly. It appears in all kinds of convoluted forms. My fear that my desire will appear in my films has always caused me to be extremely wary of making films, hasn’t it? Haven’t I made films to hide my desires instead? Trying to hide them made them appear even more vividly.”

Nagisa Oshima
March 31, 1932 – January 15, 2013

Nagisa OshimaFilmIcons

Jack Nicholson and Michelangelo Antonioni.

Jack Nicholson and Michelangelo Antonioni.


"People have curiosity, they have intelligence, they have interest in understanding their peers. But producers and directors of cinema have decided that the seats in the theaters have been made to transform people’s minds to lazy minds. As soon as they enter a theater they must become moron consumers who must be fed information. Those same people, when they leave the theater, when they look behind the curtains they are curious about their neighbors, they can guess if their neighbors are siblings or a couple, how old they are, what their occupation is. They are curious about each other and they can understand each other without being fed information. Why should it be different in cinema? In real life, when someone’s partner calls them, they can tell from the first word their partner says what their mood is. In my films, I try to give people as little information as possible, which is still much more than what they get in real life. I feel that they should be grateful for the little bit of information I give them. If they were as inquisitive when they come to watch my films as they are in real life, they’d make my life easier." — Abbas Kiarostami, Filmmaker Magazine

"People have curiosity, they have intelligence, they have interest in understanding their peers. But producers and directors of cinema have decided that the seats in the theaters have been made to transform people’s minds to lazy minds. As soon as they enter a theater they must become moron consumers who must be fed information. Those same people, when they leave the theater, when they look behind the curtains they are curious about their neighbors, they can guess if their neighbors are siblings or a couple, how old they are, what their occupation is. They are curious about each other and they can understand each other without being fed information. Why should it be different in cinema? In real life, when someone’s partner calls them, they can tell from the first word their partner says what their mood is. In my films, I try to give people as little information as possible, which is still much more than what they get in real life. I feel that they should be grateful for the little bit of information I give them. If they were as inquisitive when they come to watch my films as they are in real life, they’d make my life easier." — Abbas Kiarostami, Filmmaker Magazine



Were you surprised to to see the ending of the film?Liv Ullmann: Of Persona? Yes, very much. Very much of that picture happened at the cutting table. This scene was not in the script. Also the scene where the two faces come together, we did not know about that either. [Bergman] took us once to the cutting room. We hadn’t heard about this. He said, “I want you to watch something.” We saw this strange face. I thought, “Oh, God. Bibi is fantastic. She looks completely neurotic.” At the same time, Bibi thought, “How did Liv do it?” Suddenly we saw that if was half of each. It was really frightening. That was also an idea that he had thought of during the shooting.

Were you surprised to to see the ending of the film?
Liv Ullmann: Of Persona? Yes, very much. Very much of that picture happened at the cutting table. This scene was not in the script. Also the scene where the two faces come together, we did not know about that either. [Bergman] took us once to the cutting room. We hadn’t heard about this. He said, “I want you to watch something.” We saw this strange face. I thought, “Oh, God. Bibi is fantastic. She looks completely neurotic.” At the same time, Bibi thought, “How did Liv do it?” Suddenly we saw that if was half of each. It was really frightening. That was also an idea that he had thought of during the shooting.

March 25, 1943 — Akira Kurosawa’s first film, Sanshiro Sugata, is released in Japan.

People often ask me how I felt directing my maiden work, but, as I have said, I simply enjoyed it. I went to sleep each night looking forward eagerly to the next day’s shooting, and there was absolutely nothing painful about the experience. My crew to a man gave me their utmost. My set designers and wardrobe people ignored the small size of our budget and responded with, ‘O.K. Leave it to us!’ I was deeply touched by their insistence on making everything exactly what I wanted it to be. And all the doubts I had had about my ability to direct before I was give the opportunity vanished after the first shot was completed, like clouds and mist after a rain. The whole task was carried out with a feeling of ease.

This feeling may be a little hard to understand, so let me try to explain. When I was an assistant director, I watched very carefully how Yama-san (Kajiro Yamamoto) directed, and I couldn’t help but be amazed at the way his attention reached every nook and cranny of the production. Feeling that my own eyes could not see that far, I necessarily harbored doubts about my directing talent.

Once I looked at the production from the director’s viewpoint, however, I saw everything I had been unable to see as an assistant director, or even as a second-unit director. I understood the subtle difference between positions. When you are creating your own work, it is entirely different from when you are helping with someone else’s. Moreover, when you are directing your own script, you understand the script better than anyone else possibly can. When I finally became a director, I at last understood all the implications of Yama-san’s order to write scripts first if I wanted to direct. It was because of this that, although Sanshiro Sugata was my very first film, it went exactly the way I wanted it to. Making this film seemed not like ascending a steep precipice, but more like clambering around the gentle slopes at the base of the mountain. My overall impression of it was that of a very pleasant excursion, like a picnic.

Akira Kurosawa, Something Like an Autobiography

"I have never taken on a project offered to me by a producer or a production company. My films emerge from my own desire to say a particular thing at a particular time. The root of any film project for me is this inner need to express something. What nurtures this root and makes it grow into a tree is the script. What makes the tree bear flowers and fruit is the directing."

"I am often asked if there is anything special I do to make my films understood by foreigners. I reply that I am making my films as a Japanese as honestly as I can. So these films are understood by other people and sometimes are loved by them. It seems that everyone becomes closer to everyone else through cinema." — Akira Kurosawa


"My way of creating, my style if you want to call it that, is something I was born with: it comes naturally. For that reason, it’s not something I’m overly aware of while I’m doing it. I don’t force any picture of mine to be a Kurosawa film. I just tell the actors to be honest with themselves and true to their feelings, not to think about unnecessary things, and to let their actions flow naturally. This is my philosophy of film art, and it’s an aesthetic principle that I hold dear—it comes from the heart. I am simply a maker of films."
Akira KurosawaMarch 23, 1910 – September 6, 1998

"My way of creating, my style if you want to call it that, is something I was born with: it comes naturally. For that reason, it’s not something I’m overly aware of while I’m doing it. I don’t force any picture of mine to be a Kurosawa film. I just tell the actors to be honest with themselves and true to their feelings, not to think about unnecessary things, and to let their actions flow naturally. This is my philosophy of film art, and it’s an aesthetic principle that I hold dear—it comes from the heart. I am simply a maker of films."

Akira Kurosawa
March 23, 1910 – September 6, 1998

Akira KurosawaFilmIcons

“If I were to explain things myself and offer an interpretation [of my films] then this would automatically reduce the spectator’s ability to find their own answers. My films are offerings, I invite the audience to deal with them, think about them and reflect upon them and, ultimately, to find their own answers. I also think that an author doesn’t always necessarily know what he intends and what the meaning is behind his work. For example, I am always amazed by the many theses and books I read about myself, all of which reveal what I supposedly wanted to express in my films or was supposed to have dealt with. I strongly believe it would be very counterproductive for the audience if I were to answer the questions I am raising in my films, because then no one would have to think about them.”
Michael HanekeBorn March 23, 1942

If I were to explain things myself and offer an interpretation [of my films] then this would automatically reduce the spectator’s ability to find their own answers. My films are offerings, I invite the audience to deal with them, think about them and reflect upon them and, ultimately, to find their own answers. I also think that an author doesn’t always necessarily know what he intends and what the meaning is behind his work. For example, I am always amazed by the many theses and books I read about myself, all of which reveal what I supposedly wanted to express in my films or was supposed to have dealt with. I strongly believe it would be very counterproductive for the audience if I were to answer the questions I am raising in my films, because then no one would have to think about them.”

Michael Haneke
Born March 23, 1942

Michael HanekeFilmIcons

Akira Kurosawa and Andrei Tarkovsky.

Akira Kurosawa and Andrei Tarkovsky.