To celebrate what would have been the late film director's 103rd birthday, Hulu and the Criterion Collection are jointly offering streams of 24 Akira Kurosawa films for free online this weekend, along with a number of extra features. Perhaps best known for "Seven Samurai," Kurosawa's filmography is legendary in both its ambition and its impact on others. With such a chilly forecast for the weekend, staying home to watch great cinema is all the more appealing.
There are no real low points in Kurosawa's oeuvre, but here are a few highlights worth checking out:
- Now a staple technique of crime dramas, "Rashomon" was among the first films to employ multiple (conflicting) recollections of the same event. It's a device that Kurosawa exploits masterfully, without sacrificing attention to character and visual details.
- Kurosawa was an avowed fan of Westerns. His classic loner-samurai flick "Yojimbo" makes this clear, and even went on to inspire future Westerns with its story. You can see its influence on "Sukiyaki Western Django," "Lucky Number Slevin" and even John Belushi's old SNL character, Samurai Futaba.
- Perhaps less known, the vividly colored "Dodes'ka-den" follows characters living in a rubbish-ridden slum. A mentally challenged boy lives in his own fantasy world as a train conductor, despite his bleak surroundings. It's a quirky and divisive feature whose commercial failure drove Kurosawa to attempt suicide, but if you've seen his more notable works, it's a directorial detour worth watching.
Can't wait any longer to jump in? Stream "Seven Samurai" below now: