To pull on viewers’ heartstrings, Kurosawa insisted that a director must have a “humane character.” He cited a list of filmmakers who exemplify this quality, including “John Ford, Jean Renoir, John Huston, Federico Fellini, Angelopoulos, [and] Sidney Lumet.” Kurosawa continued to explain that he’d “met every one of them, and have spoken to them. Just as they have exceptional works, they were also very distinguished in character.” Their personable natures bled into their work, allowing their characters to “express human problems in a natural way.” People that are easy to connect with will make films that are easy to connect with too.
Kurosawa was close friends with Sidney Lumet, who made films like “Serpico” and “Dog Day Afternoon.” Like Kurosawa, Lumet’s films centralize large-scale action and riveting drama. Lumet admired Kurosawa since his 1950 film “Rashomon,” which he found “magnificent.” When they got together, Kurosawa swore that they would “never discuss cinema. We generally discuss trivial matters … and we quite enjoy it.”
In fact, Kurosawa didn’t enjoy discussing films in interviews either. “Reporters always ask me what the content of my film is and I tell them that there is no such thing. I say ordinary things. A film is not supposed to be a lecture,” he mused. Lots of people would agree with him, myself included. To paraphrase David Lynch, cinematic language should speak for itself; it shouldn’t be translated into English.
If you are wowed by the spectacle of Kurosawa’s movies, consider taking a closer look. They are dense with human drama, which makes them appealing to audiences around the world. This is the thread that ties all of Kurosawa’s favorite directors together, and it can be found running along the seams of all of his films too.