Kurosawa's influence on SW

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

Thread Status:
Not open for further replies.
  1. Darth-Stryphe Former Mod and City Rep

    Member Since:
    Apr 24, 2001
    star 6
    >>>> I don't see this. Lucas may have attempted to pattern a Kurosawa visual style, but aside from the wipes, I don't think he's succeeded.

    This is what I?m talking about.

    When you?re using long lenses and things are lined up along the camera?s line of sight, then the depth-of-field is increased.


    Hmmm, well, as I said, I don't see it. Doesn't mean GL didn't try to pattern Kurosawa, I just think that if he did, he didn't do a good job of it (not to bash Lucas, he did a great job with ANH).
  2. Django211 Force Ghost

    Member Since:
    Mar 6, 1999
    star 4
    I don't know why it's so hard for some fans to see how much Lucas stole/remade from Kurosawa. Some great films like The Magnificent Seven & Fistful of Dollars were obvious remakes that Kurosawa enjoyed. He felt is was an honor that directors wanted to take his films & place them in another genre. Kurosawa said that he was greatly influenced by American westerns, particularly those of John Ford.

    I also find it odd when Lucas talks about how Kurosawa placed his audience in the middle of the action & didn't explain anything. I think George really didn't understand this aspect of Kurosawa's films but it benefitted him greatly. The samurai films were genre pics. The Japanese audience knew the surroundings, the rules, & the samurai culture. They did not need any explanation for the films. It would be like an american going to a western & questioning why is everyone good with a gun. It is part of the genre & needs no explanation.
  3. Durwood Jedi Grand Master

    Member Since:
    May 18, 2002
    star 5
    I also find it odd when Lucas talks about how Kurosawa placed his audience in the middle of the action & didn't explain anything. I think George really didn't understand this aspect of Kurosawa's films but it benefitted him greatly. The samurai films were genre pics. The Japanese audience knew the surroundings, the rules, & the samurai culture. They did not need any explanation for the films.

    Lucas was talking about the fact that Western audiences who are unfamiliar with Asian culture could follow the films despite their ignorance. It showed Lucas that not everything needed to be explained and in fact, the films took on a magical surreal quality because of this. He understood what he was talking about perfectly.
  4. First_Stage_Lensman Jedi Youngling

    Member Since:
    Feb 23, 2003
    star 2
    I find the examples given (screen-captures) to be somewhat on the anal side: look, Kurosawa put three people in the frame standing hard left and Lucas did it too! Some of it just doesn't corrospond at all. You could do the same with almost any action film.

    Kurosawa and Lucas are my two favorite directors and I know their work extremely well. But there isn't a 1.1 ratio between their films. [Edit: all of this has been covered elsewhere in this post].

    This sort of Film 101 analysis rubs me the wrong way. All artists are derivitive but unless you're talking about complete hack-work you can't account for everything in one work of art by comparing it to something that inspired it. Wagner 'borrowed' liberally from Berlioz but that doesn't make 'Der Ring' any less a work of art.

    *
    Someone mentioned 'Flash Gordon' (everyone seems to forget that this was a comic strip first, which Lucas collected; the comic was far more of an influence on SW than the films) I keep saying, you want Lucas's ultimate source material? READ LENSMAN. At least read "Triplanetary" - this is where almost everything comes from: the Death Star, the politics, the Gungans, the underwater chase etc...
    *
    Someone said that Lucas doesn't seem to have been very influenced by this or that. I think the whole point of SW is that it is pop-art, pure Pastiche. The originality is in the arrangement and use of elements, across the board, from the thematic to the visual. It's All influence! But the influences are legion - you can't chalk it all up to Kurosawa.
    *
    Someone mentioned Vladimir Propp: talk about plaigerism! Joseph Campbell robbed this man blind!
    *
    Oh and the story synopsis were over the top. [A] you're using an internet document for the SW synopsis (I assume you don't have access to Lucasfilm archives) so you really can't make a definitive point was Richie's book even out by then?

    Also, I HIGHLY doubt Lucas could have seen some of those very early Kurosawa films. Some of them weren't screened in the U.S. until the 80s and 90s.
  5. bad radio Force Ghost

    Member Since:
    Aug 26, 1999
    star 4
    >>>> Oh and the story synopsis were over the top. [A] you're using an internet document for the SW synopsis (I assume you don't have access to Lucasfilm archives) so you really can't make a definitive point was Richie's book even out by then?

    The SW synopsis is the real thing. I have the Magic of Myth publicity guide that was given out at the opening of the ?Magic of Myth? exhibit at the Smithsonian in ?97. In it is the very same 1973 story synopsis.

    Additionally, the first edition of Richie?s book, which covered all of Kurosawa?s films all the way through Red Beard, was published in 1965.

    >>>> Also, I HIGHLY doubt Lucas could have seen some of those very early Kurosawa films. Some of them weren't screened in the U.S. until the 80s and 90s.

    That?s not true. All of Kurosawa?s films up through Red Beard were released and distributed internationally sometime prior to 1966.
  6. First_Stage_Lensman Jedi Youngling

    Member Since:
    Feb 23, 2003
    star 2
    Yeah, but Lucas didn't start watching Kurosawa films until he was in college. Sanshiro Sugata and its sequel were definately not seen in the US until very recently.

    But what difference does it make? If you're sold on this paint-by-numbers concept nothing's gonna shake you.

    Oh - and cropping the SW images to match the pre-widescreen Kurosawa shots is very misleading.
  7. bad radio Force Ghost

    Member Since:
    Aug 26, 1999
    star 4
    >>>> Yeah, but Lucas didn't start watching Kurosawa films until he was in college. Sanshiro Sugata and its sequel were definately not seen in the US until very recently.

    That?s not true either because it was piggy-backed with Hiroshi Inagaki?s Samurai II: Duel at Ichijoji Temple when it came to the states in 1966. Hmmm? When did Lucas attend school at USC?

    >>>> Oh - and cropping the SW images to match the pre-widescreen Kurosawa shots is very misleading.

    FYI, the only things I cropped out of the screencaps were the black bars. Click on the pics and you?ll see that they are indeed widescreen images.

    On a side note: As I?m writing this, coincidentally my TiVo just started recording Stray Dog on WNVC here in Washington DC. Weird, huh?
  8. Durwood Jedi Grand Master

    Member Since:
    May 18, 2002
    star 5
    I find the examples given (screen-captures) to be somewhat on the anal side: look, Kurosawa put three people in the frame standing hard left and Lucas did it too! Some of it just doesn't corrospond at all. You could do the same with almost any action film.

    This is pretty much it in a nutshell.
  9. First_Stage_Lensman Jedi Youngling

    Member Since:
    Feb 23, 2003
    star 2
    Well that just about proves it. Now that I know this I don't have to watch SW anymore. What a load of wasted time!! If I had only known...
  10. DrEvazan Jedi Youngling

    Member Since:
    Jun 19, 2002
    star 4
    "I find the examples given (screen-captures) to be somewhat on the anal side: look, Kurosawa put three people in the frame standing hard left and Lucas did it too! Some of it just doesn't corrospond at all. You could do the same with almost any action film."

    i would love to see some examples from "almost any action film", and you are ignoring the fact that the scenes mirror one another in substance, situation, and in many instances, dialogue.

    beyond that, the FACT is that Lucas watched Kurosawa's films and was entirely conscious of Kurosawa's style, technique, and shot composition when he made his own films. it is not as if the comparisons are random at all when Lucas has stated many times how he was influenced by Kurosawa.

  11. First_Stage_Lensman Jedi Youngling

    Member Since:
    Feb 23, 2003
    star 2
    I think some people are investing a little too much into the term "influenced". You make it sound like an admission of guilt. Basically, you can't prove anything just by comparing. You can note the similarity but that's as far as fact will go - the rest is conjecture & opinion.

    Not that any of this interferes with my enjoyment of SW: this is classic 'found art' - something 'new' made from bits of unrelated materials; it goes back to his college days and student films like "Look At Life". What makes SW brilliant is that it doesn't stop at Kurosawa or the brothers Grimm etc... there's level upon level of this going on - the cumulative effect is incredibly dense and sophisticated. SW is an editorial work not a literary work. And even stating all of the above you can't take away Lucas's own sense of composition, color and editing which ARE unique and in my opinion brilliant.
  12. Django211 Force Ghost

    Member Since:
    Mar 6, 1999
    star 4
    I think some people here see "influence" as some type of theft that is trying to deny the brilliance of Star Wars & I don't think this is the case at all. Just about all the "film brats" of the 70's were influenced by other films & they "stole" shots, stories, music etc... Brian DePalma ripped off Hitchcock for years yet he still made good films because he made them his own. Same as Lucas. Just like Sergio Leone or John Sturges, Lucas used a wonderful film changed things to fit his needs & the result was another fantastic film.

    This happens all the time in Hollywood & all over the world. Horrible films like Daylight or The Mighty Ducks are just remakes of The Poseidon Adventure & The Bad News Bears. Yet how many people are going to remember the older films? Not as many since the audience is different & time has passed. In Lucas' case he did it well, oustanding in fact, yet some people think it diminishes his accomplishment because it isn't as original as they once thought.
  13. bad radio Force Ghost

    Member Since:
    Aug 26, 1999
    star 4
    For those Kurosawa fans out there: If you plan on seeing The Matrix Reloaded, see if you can spot the characters ?A. Kurosawa? and ?Captain Mifune.?
  14. Darth-Stryphe Former Mod and City Rep

    Member Since:
    Apr 24, 2001
    star 6
    Well, let me reiderate by saying that although I see strong obvious parrelells between THF and ANH/TPM/ROJ, I don't think anything GL did ranks as illegal or theft. The influence is obvious. Tributes within filmmaking are fine, borrowing styles is fine (at times even encouragable). I wish GL would be a little more forthcoming with the amount of influence he got from THF. Maybe in his mind the influence really isn't there, but come on, some of those scenes are almost clones of the other.

    In either event, I do not think GL has done anything wrong.
  15. Django211 Force Ghost

    Member Since:
    Mar 6, 1999
    star 4
    I caught Captain Mifune but where was Kurosawa?
  16. Darth-Stryphe Former Mod and City Rep

    Member Since:
    Apr 24, 2001
    star 6
  17. bad radio Force Ghost

    Member Since:
    Aug 26, 1999
    star 4
    I just wanted to make a clarification on the release date of Sanshiro Sugata. It was shown in 1966, but only at one lone film festival in New York City. It wasn?t released in the states nationwide until 1974, and this is most likely when George Lucas first saw the film. Sorry for the error.

    On a side note: ?A. Kurosawa? is linked to the character of ?Ghost? in The Matrix Reloaded.
  18. DrEvazan Jedi Youngling

    Member Since:
    Jun 19, 2002
    star 4
    "Brian DePalma ripped off Hitchcock for years yet he still made good films because he made them his own."

    Brian DePalma is considered by other directors and filmmakers to be one of the biggest creative thiefs there is. Not only does he steal almost everything he does from Hitchcock, he has also stolen liberally from Copolla and Eisenstein.

    im still waiting for the examples from "any action film" that so closely mirror Kurosawa the way the Star Wars films have.
  19. yodaschum Jedi Master

    Member Since:
    May 9, 2002
    star 4
    Lucas was talking about the fact that Western audiences who are unfamiliar with Asian culture could follow the films despite their ignorance. It showed Lucas that not everything needed to be explained and in fact, the films took on a magical surreal quality because of this. He understood what he was talking about perfectly

    Yet Lucas now explains EVERYTHING away by creating the prequels. So his use of Kurosawas style of "nothing is explained and you are plopped right in it" in ANH is now redundant.
  20. First_Stage_Lensman Jedi Youngling

    Member Since:
    Feb 23, 2003
    star 2
    For a really good discussion of this subject check out "The Warrior's Cinema" by Stephen Prince pages 351-354. It's an excellent book about Kurosawa with a whole section about Star Wars.
  21. First_Stage_Lensman Jedi Youngling

    Member Since:
    Feb 23, 2003
    star 2
    On an unrelated note: the whole "we're wanted men" thing...

    In almost every action movie there's a scene where the protagonist is challenged by some sort of creep and the protaganist proceeds to waste 'em. This gives them an oppurtunity to show the other characters and the audience what they can do and it is done to an unsypathetic character thus leaving their status as a "hero" unsullied.

  22. bad radio Force Ghost

    Member Since:
    Aug 26, 1999
    star 4
    >>>> In almost every action movie there's a scene where the protagonist is challenged by some sort of creep and the protaganist proceeds to waste 'em. This gives them an oppurtunity to show the other characters and the audience what they can do and it is done to an unsypathetic character thus leaving their status as a "hero" unsullied.

    Yes, but it?s not often that the hero pulls out his sword and proceeds to cut the bad guy?s arm off? Couple that with the fact Lucas, in his 1973 SW story synopsis, copied nearly word-for-word General Skywalker?s confrontation with the cantina bullies from Dan Richie?s 1965 biography of Kurosawa. Let?s put it this way, if Lucas hadn?t seen and read about Sanjuro cutting that dude?s arm off in Yojimbo, then we would have never witnessed Obi-Wan Kenobi doing the same thing in Star Wars.
  23. Durwood Jedi Grand Master

    Member Since:
    May 18, 2002
    star 5
    Yet Lucas now explains EVERYTHING away by creating the prequels.

    Except that he hasn't explained everything.
  24. First_Stage_Lensman Jedi Youngling

    Member Since:
    Feb 23, 2003
    star 2
    bad-radio: it is interesting that when Kurosawa's early films were first screened in the U.S. many critics thought they saw exact scenes from John Ford films (and other American directors) simply transposed into a Japanese context - they lauded the Japanese for their ability to imitate! Just because you see these things as being identical doesn't make it so.

    Even IF it is a direct copy or tribute or whatever I've already stated that I don't care b'cuz... SW is a Pastiche. It's a collage. It's Man Ray and Joseph Cornell and Andy Warhol. It's modern art - pop/visual/'found' art, not original drama.
  25. MeBeJedi Jedi Grand Master

    Member Since:
    May 30, 2002
    star 6
    1. The Idiot (1951), based on the novel by Fyodor Dostoyevsky
    2. Throne of Blood (1957), based on William Shakespeare's Macbeth
    3. The Lower Depths (1957), based on the play by Maxim Gorky
    4. The Bad Sleep Well (1959), inspired by Shakespeare's Hamlet
    5. Yojimbo (1961), based loosely on Dashiell Hammett's Red Harvest
    6. High and Low (1963), based on Ed McBain's King's Ransom
    7. Dersu Uzala (1975), based on the memoirs of Vladimir Arsenyev
    8. Ran (1985), based on William Shakespeare's King Lear

    Yojimbo inspired Sergio Leone?s A Fistful of Dollars (starring Clint Eastwood) and the genre of "spaghetti-Westerns" that followed. Since Yojimbo was itself inspired by American westerns, Kurosawa was not at all surprised by this "reverse imitation."
Thread Status:
Not open for further replies.