Akira Kurosawa is one of the most influential filmmakers in history, known for his innovative techniques and his ability to create emotionally powerful stories. His films have inspired countless directors and continue to be celebrated for their timeless themes and cinematic beauty.

Whether you are a seasoned filmmaker or jusarting out, these lessons can help you create films that are both artistically ambitious and emotionally engaging. 

Let's dive in. 

Directing lessons from Akira Kurosawa'Kagemusha'Credit: 20th Century Fox

10 Directing Lessons From Akira Kurosawa

Kurosawa revolutionized cinema and his mark on the medium still influences filmmakers today. Not only is his filmography a great source of inspiration (check out Rashomon, Seven Samurai, and the magical realist anthology film Dreams if you need some of that inspiration), but Kurosawa is a great director to learn from.

Here are ten directing lessons we learned from Kurosawa over his career:

  1. Trust your instincts: Kurosawa believed that a director must have a strong sense of intuition and follow it even if it goes against convention or advice from others.

  2. Study the masters: Kurosawa was heavily influenced by the work of filmmakers such as John Ford and Jean Renoir. He believed in studying the work of others to improve his craft.

  3. Collaborate with your actors: Kurosawa was known for his collaborative approach to working with actors. He believed in giving them room to interpret their roles and express their creativity.

  4. Plan everything in advance: Kurosawa was meticulous in his planning and storyboarding, often creating detailed sketches of each shot before filming began.

  5. Focus on the details: Kurosawa believed that every element in a film, from the costumes to the set design, should be carefully considered and designed to support the story.

  6. Embrace the power of silence: Kurosawa was a master of using silence to create tension and build suspense in his films.

  7. Learn from your mistakes: Kurosawa was not afraid to admit when he made mistakes and learn from them in to improve his work.

  8. Be open to new technologies: Kurosawa was always experimenting with new technologies and techniques in filmmaking, such as using telephoto lenses to create a sense of compression and depth.

  9. Stay true to your vision: Kurosawa believed that a director must have a strong sense of their own vision for a film and must stay true to it, even if it means going against popular opinion.

  10. Be passionate about your work: Kurosawa was known for his deep passion for filmmaking and believed that a director must be fully committed to their work to create something truly great. 

Directing lessons from Akira Kurosawa'High and Low'Credit: Toho

​​Summing Up 10 Directing Lessons From Akira Kurosawa

The legacy of Akira Kurosawa's work as a director continues to inspire and influence filmmakers around the world. His approach to filmmaking, from meticulous planning to collaborating with actors, emphasizes the importance of creative vision, attention to detail, and a commitment to excellence.

By embracing the lessons learned from Kurosawa's work, filmmakers can hone their craft and create films that are not only visually stunning but also emotionally impactful.

As we continue to celebrate the art of cinema, Kurosawa's films remain a testament to the power of storytelling and the enduring impact of visionary filmmakers. 

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