Honda vs Kurosawa

2 07 2012

No it is not a Japanese Monster Movie or a boxing match between 2 Japanese Directors.

As part of this Post a Month in June thing I thought I would do a list of the Top 10 Asian Directors, but there was a problem with this, I kept on discovering critically acclaimed directors I have not heard of and so doing something like that would take a lot of time and research. However I always told myself that these 2 would be in first/second place. But the question is, who as in Who is the Best.

First off, for those of you who do not know who either is I would like to ask, Why have you not heard of them? These 2 are Icons of Japanese Films. They were both really Good Friends, they both worked at Toho and they both produced some of the best well-known films in Cinema History.

Ishirō Honda was one of the Big Four (Tanaka, Honda, Ifukube and Tsuburaya) and was one of the main pioneers of both Japanese Science Fiction and Japanese Monster Movies. He is probably best known (of course) as being the Director of the Original Japanese Godzilla film and six other Godzilla films along with other monster films including Mothra, Rodan, Atragon and Space Amoeba. Other films he was known for included The Mysterians and The H-Man. Honda was also well-known by the people that knew him to have an Amazing work ethic.

“He would stop drinking his beloved saké while shooting and wouldn’t touch a drop until the film was finished”

– Kimi Honda

“Mr Honda was always cheerful and a perfect gentleman. He never became angry. He was a wonderful director to work with”

– Haruo Nakajima

“Monsters are born too tall, too strong, too heavy, that is their tragedy”

– Ishirō Honda

Akira Kurosawa

Akira Kurosawa Is well known in Cinema full stop. He has worked with people like Ishirō Honda as well as Steven Spielberg, George Lucas, Francis Ford Coppola and Martin Scorsese. He is well known for his collaborations with actor Toshiro Mifune. His films include Rashomon, Drunken Angel, Yojimbo, Ran and of course Seven Samurai.

Kurosawa is well known as being a hands on Director. All aspects of shooting had his involvement. He believed that the script was the absolute foundation of the film. During the production of Seven Samurai he had six notebooks which he used to detail the biographies of the Samurai. When it came to the villagers in the film he made the actors live and work like them to make the story as realistic as possible. There were also many recurring themes in his work in the relationship between the Master and the Disciple as well as the Heroic Champion.

In 1990 he was given The Lifetime Achievement Award at the Academy Awards and was posthumously named Asian of the Century in the “Arts, Literature and Culture” by Asianweek.

“I am proud of nothing I have done other than with him.”

– Toshiro Mifune

“He has had a tremendous influence on my life and on my work and on my sensitivity toward visual story telling”

– George Lucas

“Being an artist means not having to avert one’s eyes”

– Akira Kurosawa

Choosing between these two is quite hard. In one corner I am sort of patriotic to Honda because of The Godzilla films, but that is not really a way to choose. So while it does pain me to say this it is understandable. While Honda was a pioneer under his own right Kurosawa is the best because of the amount of detail and hard work he has put into his films cannot be ignored. If we were to look at his Masterpiece Seven Samurai as an example. It is an incredibly long film, possibly the longest film in Cinema history but it is packed with so much content that it does not get boring once and is filled with some character you can’t help but care for. So while I prefer Godzilla and Honda to Seven Samurai And Kurosawa, Kurosawa is not only the better director in this instance but also the Best Japanese and Asian Director in Cinema History.




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