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Akira Kurosawa's Paintings and Movie Frames Side by Side

Japanese auteur Akira Kurosawa wanted to become a painter in his younger days, but financial struggles and his distaste for political involvement forced him to abandon his dreams. Turning to film, the director was able to invent a new and stunning visual language for the big screen. As his filmmaking career progressed, he found himself drawing and painting entire frames before composing them for the cinema — often to help explain a shot to his crew.

When budget negotiations for war epic Kagemusha started to take a toll on the director, he created several hundred drawings in order to convey his enthusiasm for the project — which he explained in his book Something Like an Autobiography. “My purpose was not to paint well,” he wrote. “I made free use of various materials that happened to be at hand.” He continued this approach with his 1985 jidaigeki story Ran, and eventually galleries began to take notice. Kurosawa described the late publicity of his art “a dream,” since he had always fantasized about having his own exhibitions.

The artworks were exhibited several years ago at the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences, and thankfully This Must Be the Place gathered several of the images in one spot. We’ve featured a few of them past the break. It’s fascinating to see how the compositions match up with the movies in a side by side comparison. Click through for more Kurosawa.


Image credit: Akira Kurosawa

Kagemusha