Kurosawa’s influence to live on with two new filmmaking schools

The influence of legendary moviemaker Akira Kurosawa lives on.

A movie school bearing his name is under construction in Japan and another is planned in the United States.

And Hollywood appears to have taken an interest in the humanist aspects of Kurosawa’s works, instead of samurai fighting scenes. DreamWorks, led by director Steven Spielberg, is planning to make a film based on Kurosawa’s “Ikiru” (“To Live”).

The 1952 film depicts a civil servant who has worked for 30 years without purpose or satisfaction, only to learn he has cancer.

He decides to dedicate his remaining days to construction of a small park. Kurosawa, who passed away six years ago, dwelt on the meaning of life through the soul of a man facing death.

Previously, Hollywood turned out a version of Kurosawa’s 1954 masterpiece, “Seven Samurai,” about seven samurai who are brought together to protect a village and its inhabitants from bandits. The Hollywood movie was titled “The Magnificent Seven” and was set in Mexico.

Kurosawa Production of Yokohama is constructing a building for the Kurosawa Akira Cinema College, which is due to open in spring 2006 in Adachi Ward, Tokyo, and will have some 500 students. The late director’s staff will serve as instructors.

Hisao Kurosawa, head of production and Kurosawa’s eldest son, said a movie school carrying the name of Kurosawa is also likely to open in California next year.

The two projected schools will promote interaction of instructors and students in the future, he said.

At the same time, plans are under way in the city of Akita to re-create the Kurosawa group’s movie-making set, with a view to completing it in two years.

The town in “Yojimbo” and some scenes from “Rashomon” may be re-created. The set will be open to visitors and used by Cinema College students to study location shooting.

Kurosawa said the reason movie fans continue to like his father’s films is because they are both entertaining and artistic, and are big in scale.

He said the college will teach students Kurosawa’s spirit and his staff’s techniques.

The Hollywood production based on “Ikiru” will encourage fans to see Kurosawa’s movies again, he said.

“We will have to keep conveying Kurosawa Akira in order to see genuinely good movies.”