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The films of Akira Kurosawa used to be the gateway into Japanese cinema for many non-Japanese. (That role has since been assumed by the films of Hayao Miyazaki and other animators.)

Kurosawa’s classics of the 1950s, such as “Rashomon,” “Ikiru,” “Shichinin no Samurai” (“Seven Samurai”) and “Kakushi-toride no San-akunin” (“The Hidden Fortress”), not only crossed borders with their universal themes, vivid characters and compelling stories but had an outsized influence on foreign filmmakers. One was George Lucas, who famously drew from “The Hidden Fortress” to create “Star Wars.”

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