Sanshiro Sugata (1943)

Akira Kurosawa’s first film is a fairly simple tale that follows the titular character learning judo, and learning about himself, life, and the world along the way.

I was intrigued by how Kurosawa had the world and nature reflect the character’s state of mind, displaying his mood and state through the environmental context.

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Some other aspects of the film that would later become known Kurosawa features are the use of wipes (made perhaps more famous in the western world by Star Wars, the wipes are almost like the visual of the turning of a page), cinematic focus on motion, reverence to nature, and emotive performances.

It’s not an enormously ambitious film, and it’s no doubt marred by the seventeen minutes of lost footage, but it’s still an enjoyable experience, and a strong first film. I give it three shoes, and a muddied stake.

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