Mifune — wry, charismatic and deadly — was the first non-white action star. Says director Steven Spielberg, “A lot of people try to imitate Mifune, especially when they’re playing strong and silent, but nobody can. He was unique in all the world.”
Just introduced by Strand Releasing, the new indie film/documentary, “Toshiro Mifune: The Last Samurai,” explores the impact Mifune imprinted on movie heroes and storylines. Currently making its way through national and international film festivals, it will soon be released in wide distribution.
This important movie tracks the origin-of-the-species of leading men’s heroic characters. Watch it to truly appreciate how today’s new action heroes came to be because of the acting style of Toshiro Mifune who influenced some of the greatest movies in the last 50 years.
His persona inspired directors Steven Spielberg, Clint Eastwood and George Lucas among many others, and created the strong silent hero character for countless Hollywood features.
Toshiro Mifune was a Japanese actor who appeared in almost 170 feature films. “Mifune: The Last Samurai” explores the evolution of the samurai film; Mifune’s childhood and World War II experience; his accidental entry into the movies; and his dynamic but sometimes turbulent collaboration with filmmaker Akira Kurosawa.
He is best known for his 16-film collaboration with Kurosawa in such works as “Rashomon,” “Seven Samurai,” “The Hidden Fortress,” “Throne of Blood,” and “Yojimbo.”
Although he died in 1997 at the age of 77, Mifune’s impact on moviemaking was marked by these words in his December 25, 1997 New York Times obituary:
“Mifune’s complicated, scraggly loner was one of the chief archetypes for three decades of screen heroes in Japan and around the world. His screen persona had deep roots in classical Japanese drama. It was a cinematic expression of a long-standing dramatic figure known as the tateyaku, a heroic leading man emerging from medieval samurai tales and epic military romances. In contrast to the nimaime, a more soft-spoken and romantic hero, the tateyaku is courageous, iron-willed and self-sacrificing. To this, Mr. Mifune brought a sense of ironic self-knowledge and intense sexuality. He appeared in relatively few films outside Japan and may be best known to many Americans as the warlord Toranaga, in the 1980 television mini-series adaptation of James Clavell’s ”Shogun.” But he also played a Japanese sailor stranded on a tropical island with an American sailor, Lee Marvin, in John Boorman’s ”Hell in the Pacific” (1968); an industrialist sponsoring a racing team in John Frankheimer’s ”Grand Prix” (1966), and a bumbling submarine commander in Steven Spielberg’s ”1941” (1979).”
An important and historic retrospective, “Mifune: The Last Samurai” was directed by Academy Award winning filmmaker Steven Okazaki. The film, narrated by Keanu Reeves, includes interviews with: Steven Spielberg, Martin Scorsese, Teruyo Nogami (Kurosawa’s longtime script supervisor), Kyoko Kagawa (“Red Beard”), Yoshio Tsuchiya (“Seven Samurai“), Takeshi Kato (“Throne of Blood”) and Yoko Tsukasa (“Yojimbo”), among many others.
Z’Scoop highly recommends this fascinating movie.
Watch the Trailer
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