Archive for September 8th, 2016


by Lee Price

 Ishirô Honda and Akira Kurosawa walk into a bar…

Some people are driven to work in film because they need to tell stories. Others become infatuated with film because of its ability to document reality. Akira Kurosawa, legendary director of Rashômon (1950), Ikiru (1952), and The Seven Samurai (1954), was a born storyteller. By contrast, Ishirô Honda, beloved director of Gojira (1954—for this essay, I’ll be using the American translation Godzilla to refer to the famous monster in Gojira), Rodan (1956), and Mothra (1961), never considered himself a natural storyteller. He was drawn to the cinema because of its ability to capture life.

These approaches to filmmaking are complementary, just as the vastly different temperaments of Kurosawa and Honda were complementary. Sharing a strong work ethic and an intense love of film, the two men became good friends while working in assistant director positions in the late 1930s and remained close for the next five decades.

About a month ago, I wrote an essay for Wonders in the Dark about the friendship of two other directors—the world-famous Jean Renoir and the lesser-known production-designer-turned-director Eugene Lourié. As it’s well documented that Renoir once attended a matinee of Lourié’s first directorial effort The Beast from 20,000 Fathoms, I noted:

“I’d give anything for a photo of Jean Renoir and Eugene Lourié in that movie theater…”

Now I ask: Did Akira Kurosawa attend a matinee of Gojira in 1954? Maybe a private advance screening at Toho Studios where they both worked, or perhaps at Toho Studio’s Nichigeki Theater (spectacularly demolished by Godzilla during his first stomp through Tokyo)? Although I haven’t unearthed any documentation yet, I’d like to think the two friends watched it together—Kurosawa eager to see his friend succeed and Honda nervous to learn his friend’s opinion. (more…)

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