The purpose of these activities
is to provide background knowledge on director Akira Kurosawa
and his films.
1. Read the following Akira Kurosawa quote from GREAT
"There is something that might be called cinematic
beauty. It can only be expressed in a film, and it must
be present for that film to be a moving work. When it
is very well expressed, one experiences a particularly
deep emotion while watching that film. I believe that
it is this quality that draws people to come and see
a film, and that it is the hope of attaining this quality
that inspires the filmmaker to make his film in the
Discuss the quote. Draw on the students' personal experiences
2. Create a class "Kurosawa Cinematic Beauty Chart." (Cover
one section of the classroom wall with paper where the
students can post their information.)
3. Send the students on a search for information about
Akira Kurosawa and his films.
4. Students can begin their research with the following
5. Encourage the students to make use of the Ask
the Expert feature of this site for help with any
The purpose of this activity is for students to create
a project that incorporates ideas or techniques learned
during their Kurosawa research.
1. Explain to the students that they are going to create
a group project based on a quote from GREAT PERFORMANCES'
KUROSAWA. Review the list of project
(Note to Teachers: This
activity will contain three components: script, video,
or skit/play; written explanation of the activity; and
a watercolor based on the activity.)
2. Print the list of project subject options from the
Students section of this lesson plan and distribute
it to the students.
3. Organize the students into small groups based on their
project subject choice.
4. The students may choose one of the following formats
for the project:
5. Tell the students that they will provide a written
explanation of their project that addresses the following
- skit or play
6. Provide time for the students to brainstorm ideas and
outline their project.
- What was the goal of your project?
- What did you include in your project to reach this
- How successful do you think you were in accomplishing
- In what ways is your project important, unique,
7. Stop the students at this point and have them visit
the MADADAYO section of the RAN Web site (http://www.ran2000.com/).
Ask the students to click on the Photos link to see some
of the watercolors Kurosawa created for MADADAYO, his
8. Tell the students that they are going to create a watercolor
(other mediums could also be used) that depicts a scene
from their project.
9. Provide time for the groups to present their project
In September 1923 Kurosawa and his brother Heigo went
to look at the area around Tokyo that had been destroyed
by a firestorm following a massive earthquake. When Kurosawa
turned away from the charred corpses, his brother said:
"If you shut your eyes to a frightening sight,
you end up being frightened. If you look at everything
straight on, there is nothing to be afraid of."
Create a project that is based on something that you are
afraid of or fear. (The events of 9/11 might work well
"Narrative in films normally depends on dialogue,
but I find this boring. I try to remove unnecessary
dialogue. If you watch early silent films, you can appreciate
this. I still like watching silent films. And when I'm
making a film, I try to imagine what a scene would be
like if it were silent ... and I try to leave out unnecessary
Create a video or skit/play that uses this concept of
"In the years which followed Kurosawa was
to make a succession of masterpieces which focused on
individuals trying to live virtuous lives amidst hardship
and adversity. ...
Create a project that features a person you consider to
be a real hero.
Self-sacrifice and moral commitment are the central
themes running through many of Kurosawa's films, and
they resonate with his own samurai background. 'The
characters in my films try to live honestly and make
the most of their lot in life. I believe you must live
honestly and develop your abilities to the full. People
who do this are the real heroes.'"
"I was born into a samurai family and had
a formal upbringing. So I don't know much about the
townspeople. That's the reason I find it hard to write
Create a project that is based on personal life experiences.
"In order to write scripts, you must first
study the great novels and dramas of the world. You
must consider why they are great. Where does the emotion
come from that you feel as you read them? What degree
of passion did the author have to have, in order to
portray the characters and events as he did? You must
read thoroughly, to the point where you can grasp all
Create a project based on a book that you know well.
Create a Noh play. Scripts and background on creating
this Japanese theatrical art form can be found at:
University of Virginia Library: Japanese Text Initiative:
No Plays http://etext.lib.virginia.edu/japanese/noh/
Japan Access: Noh and Kyogen
Replay, if possible, the segment in the program when the
abbot at Komyoji Temple writes the Chinese poem "Benefit
All Mankind" in calligraphy on a fan for Kurosawa. Ask
the students to create a poem or "words to live by" and
write it on a fan. Information on Chinese characters and
calligraphy is available on these Web sites:
Newton Public Schools: Angier School: Chinese Calligraphy
ThinkQuest Junior: Chinese Calligraphy
Zhongwen.com: Chinese Characters and Culture
View a film by Akira Kurosawa and compare it with the
Western film that was based on it.
- SEVEN SAMURAI/THE MAGNIFICENT SEVEN
- YOJIMBO/A FISTFUL OF DOLLARS
- THE HIDDEN FORTRESS/STAR WARS