During the press tour for Madadayo, his final film, Akira Kurosawa received relatively little admiration in his native Japan, but enjoyed an appreciative reception in Cannes. One Japanese citizen, however, was thrilled to have the opportunity to speak with this legend of world cinema. He was Hayao Miyazaki, a grandmaster of the movies himself, who made his way up to Kurosawa’s second home, with a grand view of mount Fuji, accompanied by a crew, documenting this momentous meeting.
Miyazaki was by then on his 6th film, Kurosawa was on his 30th . The two admired each other, but as is only right, Miyazaki venerates and interviews his senior. Miyazaki today is as hallowed as much as Kurosawa, the most beloved living Japanese filmmaker, and an innovator in his field. Miyazaki’s most acclaimed films laid ahead of him, Kurosawa would die less than 5 years later. Here the two speak as fellow workers. As the men briefly discuss, they feel ill-equipped to deal with traditional interviews, and
Kurosawa could alternately be famously obtuse and curt with journalists.
Their conversation here is wonderfully spontaneous and casual, a side to the filmmakers we have rarely been exposed to in televised interviews. They discuss the benefits of making films live-action (finishing a day’s shoot and going drinking), the stress of being an animator, training actors, drawing screams as soundwaves directly onto the sound strip, funny anecdotes, and Kurosawa’s unwavering focus on the smallest of details. One of Japan’s greatest actors, Tatsuya Nakadai’s first role was as an extra who walks past the camera in Seven Samurai, but here we get Kurosawa’s estimation of his performance. Apparently, they spent an entire day shooting this one shot. As Kurosawa lays out stories and insights like these, Miyazaki appears as happy as he ever has on camera.
A fan has done us all a great favor in personally translating the special into a series of videos with English subtitles. Occasionally there is a slip up, but it’s well worth it to check these out, if not for an amiable meeting between two men of staggering significance, then for the hard to find storyboards for Madadayo, insights into the actors’ improvisations on set, look into the work ethic of a Kurosawa production, and so on. Once you’ve watched the interview video above, here’s where you can find Part 2, Part 3 and Part 4.