Bungei Shunju, ed., Isetsu Kurosawa Akira (Tokyo: Bungei Shunju,
In an essay on his personal involvement in the study 00 apanese cinema,
Donald Richie reports that among many Japanese films he saw in the
immediate postwar days, the first film he can definitely identify is Kuro-
sawa's Drunken Angel. Richie's friend composer Hayasaka Fumio took
him to the film's open set of a sump, where he was introduced to Kuro-
sawa and Mifune for the first time. Richie writes: "Whenever I now see
this film and we reach that scene by the sump, I look to the right of the
screen - there I am, just a few feet off the edge, twenty-four now, mouth
open, watching a movie being made." Thus he tries to inscribe himself
permanently in the inaugural space of postwar Japanese cinema while
creating an impression that Kurosawa played a central role in that space.
See Donald Richie, "The Japanese Film: A Personal View-1947-1995:'
Asian Cinema 7, no. 2 (winter 1995): 6.
Noel Burch, To the Distant Observer: Form and Meaning in the Japanese
Cinema (Berkeley: University of California Press, 1979), 29l.
Kurosawa's nickname, tenno (emperor), or Kurosawa tenno, has com-
plex symbolic meanings. As already mentioned, the nickname obvi-
ously connotes the site and possession of power, and Kurosawa's alleged
authoritarian behavior during production accounts for this use of the
nickname. The word tenno is also used to point out what is perceived
as an increasing gap between Kurosawa's cinema and contemporary
social conditions. Like tenno, Kurosawa is said to cloister himself in his
own small world, which is completely cut off from the everyday reality
of the majority of Japanese. The nickname tenno is used in this sense
to create an image of Kurosawa as a director who abuses his power
solely for the purpose of self-indulgence. The phrase "Kurosawa tenno"
itself is a wordplay; that is, it loosely rhymes with "Kumazawa tenno"
(Aochi Shin, "Kurosawa Akira," Chuo koron [March 1957]: 245). Kuma-