Something Like an Autobiography (Paperback)

Something Like an Autobiography (Paperback)

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Adapted from Wikipedia:

In 1980, inspired by the memoir of one of his heroes, Jean Renoir, the great film director Akira Kurosawa began to publish in serial form his autobiography, entitled Gama no abura (Toad Oil; a traditional Japanese ointment for medical purposes). In English translations, the book's subtitle Something Like an Autobiography (自伝のようなもの, Jiden no you na mono) is normally used instead. The book deals with the period from the director's birth to his winning the Golden Lion for Rashomon from the Venice Film Festivalin 1951; the period from 1951 through 1980 is not covered. The title of the book is a reference to a legend according to which, if one places a deformed toad in a box full of mirrors, it will become so afraid of its own reflection that it will begin to sweat, and this sweat allegedly had medicinal properties. Kurosawa compared himself to the toad, nervous about having to contemplate, through the process of writing his life story, his own multiple "reflections."

This memoir has 54 chapters. They trace Kurosawa's early childhood years through his adolescence. He recollects memories of his schooldays, times spent with his elder brother, the great Great Kantō earthquake, and the destruction left in its aftermath.

At the age of 25, shortly after his older brother Heigo committed suicide, Kurosawa responded to an advertisement for recruiting new assistant directors at the film studio Photo Chemical Laboratories, known as P.C.L. (which later became the major studio, Toho) and was subsequently accepted for the position with four others.

During his five years as an assistant director, Kurosawa worked under numerous directors, but by far the most important figure in his development was Kajiro Yamamoto. Of his 24 films as A.D., he worked on 17 under Yamamoto. Yamamoto nurtured Kurosawa's talent, promoting him directly from third assistant director to chief assistant director after a year.[1] Kurosawa's responsibilities increased, and he worked at tasks ranging from stage construction and film development to location scouting, script polishing, rehearsals, lighting, dubbing, editing and second-unit directing.[2] In the last of Kurosawa's films as an assistant director, Horse (Uma, 1941), Kurosawa took over most of the production, as Yamamoto was occupied with the shooting of another film.

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."

"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

  • ASIN : 0394714393
  • Publisher : Vintage; Illustrated edition (May 12, 1983)
  • Language: : English
  • Paperback : 205 pages
  • Item Weight : 7.2 ounces
  • Dimensions : 5.2 x 0.62 x 7.97 inches