Kurosawa's influence on SW

Discussion in 'Star Wars Saga In-Depth' started by Darth-Stryphe, Feb 3, 2003.

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  1. GreenLantern_Jedi Jedi Knight

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    May 31, 2007
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    That's true, "from a certain point of view". Obviously, I see more direct parallels. But I'm just suggesting a new way of looking at Lucas through the lens of Kurosawa, so to speak. This thread subject always degenerates into an argument about whether or not Lucas "stole" certain shots or scenes from Kurosawa - first it gets nasty, then it gets locked. There must be other ways to explore the relationship between Lucas's work & Kurosawa's. Perhaps their approach to dramatizing history, their use of special effects, their pursuit of independent financing? Also, was Kurosawa influenced by Lucas? Kurosawa loved the Star Wars films, visited ILM & contracted ILM to supervise the special effects for "Dreams". Anything but this worn out shot-for-shot comparison that's as old as AOL...

  2. zombie Force Ghost

    Member Since:
    Aug 4, 1999
    star 4
    By the time Star Wars came out Kurosawa was in his 60's, had been directing for three decades and was otherwise set in his ways. His early style was very influenced by John Ford but by Seven Samurai he had begun to shed this and move into his own technique. I don't see any stylistic influence of Lucas', nor any sort of parallel really, and in this period of Kurosawa's their visual approach and content were in total opposition--with Kurosawa having moved to a style involving telephoto lenses, and, in the Dersu Uzala/Kagemusha/Ran period of the OT era, one that did not include close-ups and instead photographed characters from above and at a distance, a detachment in unison with the bleak and pessimistic subject matter.
  3. Darth-Stryphe Former Mod and City Rep

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    Apr 24, 2001
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    I don't know that their directing styles were similar, but I know that GL pattern the use of wipes in SW from Kurosawa films.
  4. the_immolated_one Jedi Knight

    Member Since:
    Sep 24, 2006
    star 3
    No way, Stryphe. Those wipes were put in Star Wars because those Univeral Pictures' Flash Gordon serials with Buster Crabbe had wipes.

    However, we must be boring GreenLatern_Jedi to death, so we better stop talking about the mundane details of Kurosawa's influence on Lucas.
  5. zombie Force Ghost

    Member Since:
    Aug 4, 1999
    star 4
    Lucas says he got the wipes from Kurosawa though.
  6. the_immolated_one Jedi Knight

    Member Since:
    Sep 24, 2006
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    I was just kind of joking around, zombie.

    My point was it's not like Kurosawa was the one who first started using wipes because there really are wipes in those Buster Crappe Flash Gordon serials.

    But seriously, did Lucas actually say he got the idea of using wipes in Star Wars from Kurosawa? And do you know where I can find this statement from Lucas?
  7. zombie Force Ghost

    Member Since:
    Aug 4, 1999
    star 4
    Possibly either the Lucas interview on the Criterion Hidden Fortress disk or Dale Pollock's Skywalking. But you are right in that the wipe was an established convention of cinema from 1920-1940; Kurosawa was very influenced by silent cinema, which may be why these techniques are unusually prominent in all his work. Though pretty much every movie in the era he was forged from--the 1930's and 1940's--used these, so maybe he's just a product of his time.
  8. Darth-Stryphe Former Mod and City Rep

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    star 6
    The thing about the SW\Kurosawa wipes was that in Japan, the doors open from the side, sliding doors, so visually a transitional wipe in that fashion makes sense to the Japanese, but for the western world, its just another cool wipe. If you'll notice a large chunk of his wipes in ANH were the side-to-side wipes. Since GL really liked that style, he used it, even though the pyscological effect wasn't the same on his western audience.
  9. Arawn_Fenn Chosen One

    Member Since:
    Jul 2, 2004
    star 7
    I got some wipes for Christmas.
  10. the_immolated_one Jedi Knight

    Member Since:
    Sep 24, 2006
    star 3
    Stryphe, I always wanted to burn you on this one but never felt like listening to the voice over commentary on all six movies again to find where Ben Burt says that Lucas got the idea for the wipe from the old serials but as fate would have it I just happened to turn the commentary on "AOTC" at just the right location today.

    It's been a tradition since the very first Star Wars film was released to use make scene transitions often using wipes, and this was most certainly George's idea. The inspiration for these wipes comes from their use in the classic serials in the Golden Era of Hollywood and I think the wipe is somewhat associated with the pulp style that these films are emulating. Ben Burt, "AOTC" DVD commentary located @ 01:27:57

    Care to elaborate further?
  11. zombie Force Ghost

    Member Since:
    Aug 4, 1999
    star 4
    Well, this is Ben Burtt, not Lucas. Burtt sees them as emulating the cinema of the 30's and 40's in general, but I believe Stryphe's point still stands in that Lucas has been on record saying his point of reference was Kurosawa.

    Or, if not Kurosawa alone then Kurosawa in conjunction with the many other influences Lucas took--Errol Flynn films, adventure serials, Kurosawa, silent cinema. It would be more accurate to simply say that the cinema in general that Lucas drew upon when crafting Star Wars held use of the wipe technique. Perhaps Lucas singles out Kurosawa in this technique because he used it more memorably than most. I'm not sure why you need to "burn" someone, because as was pointed out before this device is unique to neither the serials nor Kurosawa so it cannot be solely attributed to either of them.
  12. the_immolated_one Jedi Knight

    Member Since:
    Sep 24, 2006
    star 3
    Zombie, we're all just fellow Star Wars fans here and we're not at a group session trying to get in touch with our sensitive side here. When I told Stryphe I always wanted to burn him for that you don't need to take it to heart. It's just Star Wars.

    I've watched plenty of Kurosawa movies and I can't remember him using anything more than the side to side wipe. Where Lucas uses a myriad of wipes and always has and if you watch "Flash Gordon's Trip To Mars" like I just did then you'll see the simularities.

    Zombie, you're making this stuff up as you go. Where did Lucas ever single out Kurosawa in regards to Lucas' use of the wipe?
    Sure Lucas says he likes Kurosawa and all that but Stryphe was talking specifically about the wipe and then you felt compelled to back him up on that but now what do you got? You told me Lucas said, on "The Hidden Fortress" DVD, that he used the wipe because of Kurosawa but I have that DVD and he doesn't say that on that DVD. You want me to type up the transcript?
    So what else you got? The Skywalking book? Well then let's have the quote.

    And do me a favor. Don't give me "Well, it was Ben Burt and that doesn't count." I mean come on, you use all kinds of quotes from all kinds of people to back up your "Secret History" but I can't use Ben's quote. Please.

    Come on, man. Let's have the Lucas quote. I'm not the one who's afraid to be wrong. It's just Star Wars. Hell man, I might learn something.
  13. zombie Force Ghost

    Member Since:
    Aug 4, 1999
    star 4
    TIO, all I said was saying you wanting to "burn" someone over something makes little sense when the point being made is that both of you are both correct and incorrect-- no one is debating that wipes are used in serial films, just as no one should be debating that wipes are used in Kurosawa films. So he could not possibly be influenced only by one alone. But Lucas has long singled out Kurosawa as inspiring his use of wipes in the original film. I'm not sure why you are acting a little hostile over this.

    Nor did I ever say he says such things in the Hidden Fortress DVD, I said possibly because he talks about some of Kurosawa's technique and I haven't seen that interview for a year or two. But I can assure you, he has indeed been on record as singling out Kurosawa with regard to the wipe; its widely known. He may very well be on record as crediting the serials with it as well. Because its found in both, and Star Wars takes heavy inspiration from both. But, as I said before, practically every film Lucas drew from uses this device because it was device common in most films from the 30's and 40's, which include those of Errol Flynn, those of John Ford and Akira Kurosawa, those of the serial tradition, and those of practically every other film from that era. As I said earlier, Lucas might often credit Kurosawa--rather than any other example--because Kurosawa has been acknowledged as using the wipe much more effectively than many of his contemporaries, and he also continued to use it in a time when it was much less common (ie the 50's and 60's).
  14. Darth-Stryphe Former Mod and City Rep

    Member Since:
    Apr 24, 2001
    star 6
    It's been a tradition since the very first Star Wars film was released to use make scene transitions often using wipes, and this was most certainly George's idea. The inspiration for these wipes comes from their use in the classic serials in the Golden Era of Hollywood and I think the wipe is somewhat associated with the pulp style that these films are emulating. Ben Burt, "AOTC" DVD commentary located @ 01:27:57

    Cool, although I don't know that you had to worry about watching all six commentaries to prove this. I didn't base my source on the wipes from a GL direct quote, but from GL's admitted inspiration from Kurosawa (in the general sense) compiled with the fact that Kurosawa, in fact much of Japanese cinema, used this as a standard wipe.

    However, it is true that much of GL's inspiration also came from serials, as well. Such obvious signs are the open crawl (identical to Flash Gordon crawls, save for the background and the use of the word "chapter" instead of "episode"), the TF's visual communicator (used to talk to Amidala) and the lizard thing Obi-wan rode in ROTS. Undoubtedly there are many other elements I am not even aware of.

    Of course, many such Kurosawa elements exist, too. The droid's desert adventure in ANH (pre-meeting Luke), the speeder bike chase and I would speculate the lopping off of Walrus Man's arm are all nods to Kurosawa. GL has gone on record to talk about how much he has admired Kurosawa's style, so this is of no surprise. It's been a while since I research the subject, but I a certain several cinematic technics were inspired by Kurosawa, even if the wipes were partly, or wholely, influenced by Flash Gordon-styled-serials.


    I've watched plenty of Kurosawa movies and I can't remember him using anything more than the side to side wipe

    OK, perhaps a point of clarification. Yes, I only remember side wipes from Kurosawa and this is what I was referring to. I was not suggesting GL took all his editing transitions from Kurosawa alone. ANH has a number of side-ways wipes... well, they all do, but if I recall correctly, they were more prodomenent in ANH.
  15. zombie Force Ghost

    Member Since:
    Aug 4, 1999
    star 4
    I could be wrong but I think Kurosawa might have used the "blinds" wipe, and I think he has done an iris as well. Most of his wipes are just normal side to side though, and if you watch Star Wars thats how most of them are done too. Theres a great example where Luke and Ben get in the speeder, theres a wipe to a shot of the speeder travelling, then a wipe to them standing on the top of the cliff overlooking Mos Eisely; the manner in which that series plays out is exactly the way Kurosawa stages many of his scenes.
  16. the_immolated_one Jedi Knight

    Member Since:
    Sep 24, 2006
    star 3
    It's just all in good fun. I don't care about the wipes or else I would have sat through 13 hours of commentary 3 months ago.

    Now, I'm off to watch the 2nd half of the 15 chapter "Flash Gordon's Trip to Mars".

    No crawls but there is the Death Ray that is slowly destroying Earth, Clay People, Tree Men and outrageous wipes. Like this one wipe that looks like the teeth on a bear trap which comes down on the heroes when they're about to get chewed up by a big machine.

  17. Vortigern99 Manager Emeritus

    Member Since:
    Nov 12, 2000
    star 5
    Thank goodness George was tasteful enough to avoid the monster-tooth wipe!
  18. Arawn_Fenn Chosen One

    Member Since:
    Jul 2, 2004
    star 7
    Can it be said that a wipe generally indicates the passage of some amount of time?
  19. Vortigern99 Manager Emeritus

    Member Since:
    Nov 12, 2000
    star 5
    No, I don't think so. It could indicate a passage of time, but it might also indicate a mere change of location that is contemporaneous, ie taking place at the same time.
  20. the_immolated_one Jedi Knight

    Member Since:
    Sep 24, 2006
    star 3
    In "Throne of Blood" as wipe means a slight passage of time and a fade to black means the beginning of the next act.
  21. zombie Force Ghost

    Member Since:
    Aug 4, 1999
    star 4
    Wipes generally indicate a passage of time. Sometimes they are used to cross-cut between two sets of storylines/characters, in which case it is possible that both events are occuring continuously/simultaneously, but in virtually all uses a wipe indicates a jump forward in time.

    For instance the aforementioned example in Star Wars: Luke and Ben are at the sandcrawler, wipe and we've jumped ahead a few minutes or hours where they are travelling in the speeder, wipe and we've jumped ahead another few minutes or hours and they are atop the cliff now, and then there is a final wipe and we jump ahead another few minutes and see the speeder entering Mos Eisely.

    I've never seen a wipe used within a storyline used as an alternative to a continuous cut (ie in a conversation, for example instead of cutting from close up to close up), its practically only used as an alternative to a jump cut.
  22. Vortigern99 Manager Emeritus

    Member Since:
    Nov 12, 2000
    star 5
    I'm trying to think of some examples in the Saga in which a wipe means merely a change of location, of scenery, as opposed to a passage of time... but I'm not coming up with anything. I hereby retract my earlier assertion, and defer to zombie's excellent assessment, above.
  23. the_immolated_one Jedi Knight

    Member Since:
    Sep 24, 2006
    star 3
    There are two scenes that are happening simultaneously in "Attack of the Clones" which are juxtaposed by the use of a wipe.
    It's when Anakin goes on the blood drunk killing rampage of the Tuskens and then Yoda senses this event.

    It's a nice wipe too: The wipe starts from the bottom, left-hand corner of the frame but this transition actually turns into two wipes because notice another entirely different circle-style wipe starts to surround Anakin's face, his face is off center to the right half of the screen, then the circle wipe closes in on his face while we then see it's a pillar in Yoda's room that is driving the first wipe and for a moment Anakin's face is on the pillar.

    Anakin and Yoda are both hearing Qui-Gon's voice but Anakin is beyond listening because of the rage.
  24. Vortigern99 Manager Emeritus

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    Nov 12, 2000
    star 5
    ^ ^ Good catch! I hereby retract my earlier retraction, and call zombie a silly person. :p
  25. zombie Force Ghost

    Member Since:
    Aug 4, 1999
    star 4
    I hearby decry that Vortigern's initial retraction was itself premature!

    Actually, wasn't the Qui Gon thing an iris? I thought I remember that it was an iris transition, I could be wrong. Star Wars, it should also be noted, follows much stricter to the wipe conventions that Kurosawa developed, whereas with the sequels and especially the PT are more varied. ROTS I distinctly remember has this crazy "grid" pattern transition, which is very different from Star Wars where they are always wipes of some kind. I think the craziest Lucas ever got in Star Wars was a "clock" style transition where the stormtroopers are on dewbacks-- though it could be argued that thats actually a "wipe" in some sense the way it transitions the images; if you don't consider this a wipe then I think its the only non-wipe transition in the film (discounting standard transitions like fades and dissolves).

    I'm actually curious now to go through Kurosawa's work and spot the different wipes he uses. 90% of them seem to me to just be standard left-right wipes but I'm sure if you study them there's probably more variety than there first seems. Of course he directed 30 films, so I guess it might be unsurprising that he would test out other types from film to film.
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