Translated by Audie E. Bock. "A first rate book and a joy to read.... It's doubtful that a complete understanding of the director's artistry can be obtained without reading this book.... Also indispensable for budding directors are the addenda, in which Kurosawa lays out his beliefs on the primacy of a good script, on scriptwriting as an essential tool for directors, on directing actors, on camera placement, and on the value of steeping oneself in literature, from great novels to detective fiction." --Variety "For the lover of Kurosawa's movies...this is nothing short of must reading...a fitting companion piece to his many dynamic and absorbing screen entertainments." --Washington Post Book World
Kurosawa's writing is informal and easy, and the material is well organized. He's very honest in his self-assessment, presenting a three-dimensional self portrait that acknowledges weaknesses; he even proposes what his blind spots might be, urging the reader to take these into account. I wasn't as taken up by the second half which mentioned only highlights of his experiences while making his first several films, and centered more on the people he worked with and circumstances he faced than his personal development. Its best aspect was the insight into Japanese film industry and how that contrasts with the Hollywood experience. This portion would be of more interest to film buffs. It wasn't really enough to make me start looking for his early titles, but I'll keep this biography as a handy reference for trivia if I ever track them down in future.
The first half of the book beautifully evokes the pre-war Japan of his childhood, his adventures with his friends, his brother and parents. Then, his 'bohemian' period as a struggling painter and writer, then his almost accidental entry into the movie industry. The later chapters revolve around his film-making and studio politics, but always involve the personal, rather than dry history. He ends with the production of his classic film, Rashomon, on 1950, saying he'd now written enough and he was losing interest in the memoir project. An honest (though he questions his own honesty), fascinating, and conversational account of a major figure of 20th century culture.