- Birthday, Film, Quotes, Reading, Writing

Akira Kurosawa on Art, Dreaming, Madness, and More.

 

Happy birthday, Akira Kurosawa! Here are some quotes from the filmmaker:

 

“To be an artist means never to avert one’s eyes.”

 

“Although human beings are incapable of talking about themselves with total honesty, it is much harder to avoid the truth while pretending to be other people. They often reveal much about themselves in a very straightforward way. I am certain that I did. There is nothing that says more about its creator than the work itself.”

 

ikiru-1
“I can’t afford to hate anyone. I don’t have that kind of time.”―from Ikiru, 1952

 

“No matter where I go in the world, although I can’t speak any foreign language, I don’t feel out of place. I think of the earth as my home. If everyone thought this way, people might notice just how foolish international friction is, and they would put an end to it. We are, after all, at a point where it is almost narrow-minded to think merely in geocentric terms. Human beings have launched satellites into outer space, and yet they still grovel on earth looking at their own feet like wild dogs. What is to become of our planet?”

 

“Ignorance is a kind of insanity in the human animal.”

 

“There is nothing that says more about its creator than the work itself.”

 

Ran
“In a mad world, only the mad are sane!”―from Ran

 

“The terrible thing is that people who are madmen in private may wear a totally bland and innocent expression in public.”

 

“Man is a genius when he is dreaming.”

 

“People today have forgotten they’re really just a part of nature. Yet, they destroy the nature on which our lives depend. They always think they can make something better. Especially scientists. They may be smart, but most don’t understand the heart of nature. They only invent things that, in the end, make people unhappy. Yet they’re so proud of their inventions. What’s worse, most people are, too. They view them as if they were miracles. They worship them. They don’t know it, but they’re losing nature. They don’t see that they’re going to perish. The most important things for human beings are clean air and clean water.”
―from Dreams

 

“Human beings are unable to be honest with themselves about themselves. They cannot talk about themselves without embellishing. This script [for Rashomon] portrays such human beings—the kind who cannot survive without lies to make them feel they are better people than they really are. It even shows this sinful need for flattering falsehood going beyond the grave—even the character who dies cannot give up his lies when he speaks to the living through a medium. Egoism is a sin the human being carries with him from birth; it is the most difficult to redeem ”

 

“A film should appeal to sophisticated, profound-thinking people while at the same time entertaining simplistic people. A truly good movie is really enjoyable too. There’s nothing complicated about it. A truly good movie is interesting and easy to understand.”

 

“With a good script, a good director can produce a masterpiece. With the same script, a mediocre director can produce a passable film. But with a bad script even a good director can’t possibly make a good film. For truly cinematic expression, the camera and the microphone must be able to cross both fire and water. The script must be something that has the power to do this.”

 

“Characters in a film have their own existence. The filmmaker has no freedom. If he insists on his authority and is allowed to manipulate his characters like puppets, the film loses its vitality.”

 

“At some point in the writing of every script I feel like giving the whole thing up. From my many experiences of writing screenplays, however, I have learned something: If I hold fast in the face of this blankness and despair, adopting the tactic of Bodhidharma, the founder of the Zen sect, who glared at the wall that stood in his way until his legs became useless, a path will open up.”

 

“The role of a director encompasses the coaching of the actors, the cinematography, the sound recording, the art direction, the music, the editing and the dubbing and sound-mixing. Although these can be thought of as separate occupations, I do not regard them as independent. I see them all melting together under the heading of direction.”

 

“I’ve forgotten who it was that said creation is memory. My own experiences and the various things I have read remain in my memory and become the basis upon which I create something new. I couldn’t do it out of nothing. For this reason, since the time I was a young man I have always kept a notebook handy when I read a book. I write down my reactions and what particularly moves me. I have stacks and stacks of these college notebooks, and when I go off to write a script, these are what I read. Somewhere they always provide me with a point of breakthrough. Even for single lines of dialogue I have taken hints from these notebooks. So what I want to say is, don’t read books while lying down in bed.”

 

John Madera's fiction may be found in Conjunctions, Opium Magazine, The &Now Awards 2: The Best Innovative Writing, and many other journals. His criticism may be found in American Book Review, Bookforum, The Review of Contemporary Fiction, Rain Taxi: Review of Books, The Believer, The Brooklyn Rail, and many other venues. Recipient of an M.F.A. in Literary Arts from Brown University, John Madera lives in New York City, where he runs Rhizomatic and manages and edits Big Other.

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