My first introduction to Kurosawa and also to Japanese cinema in general was one rainy Sunday afternoon when I was around ten years old and I watched Rashomon. This film was a revelation and the experience remains a defining film memory.

This led me to get more and more interested in cinema and in particular foreign language films. My first experience of Kurosawa and the impact it had is not unique, as the Criterion Collection’s recent competition highlights, and it is the timelessness of Kurosawa’s films that has guaranteed that they will inspire and influence film fans for many more years to come.

Kurosawa’s films are important and influential in not just Japanese cinema but cinema in general. Many of his films are classics and they have heavily influenced filmmakers for over fifty years. Many of Kurosawa’s films have been remade or reworked resulting in many fantastic films including The Magnificent Seven (The Seven Samurai), A Fistful Of Dollars (Yojimbo) and arguably even Star Wars (The Hidden Fortress).

The Criterion Collection has put together a wonderful box set to celebrate what would have been Kurosawa’s 100th birthday on March 23rd. The deluxe, linen bound  set contains twenty-five DVDs of his films from fifty years of filmmaking and an illustrated book featuring contributions from Stephen Price (author of the excellent The Warrior’s Cinema) and Japanese film critic legend Donald Richie. Criterion has newly mastered many of the films and the box set features five that are new to the Criterion Collection including four early films previously unavailable on DVD.

The Criterion Collection always release excellent prints on DVD and Blu-Ray (and laserdiscs in the past) and their releases are almost always the best version of the film available. This Kurosawa set is no exception; a beautifully presented set with an excellent selection of films. For the technical nerds, like myself, head on over to DVD Beaver for their exhaustive write up of the specifics of the discs.

Although priced at $399.95 this actually works out to the reasonable price of $16 per DVD and the set can currently be found cheaper online. Unfortunately the set is Region 1 only so anyone in the UK will need a multi-region player to watch the films but the Criterion Collection releases are reason enough to buy one if you don’t own one already.

This is an essential purchase  for any Kurosawa fan with deep enough pockets and a fitting tribute to the great director.

Listed below are all the titles included and embedded is the promo video Criterion has released to advertise the set. Keep an eye on their site for more on Kurosawa as they have declared March Kurosawa month at Criterion.

Sanshiro Sugata (1943)

The Most Beautiful (1944)

Sanshiro Sugata Part Two (1945)

The Men Who Tread On The Tiger’s Tail (1945)

No Regrets For Our Youth (1946)

One Wonderful Sunday (1947)

Drunken Angel (1948)

Stray Dog (1949)

Scandal (1950)

Rashomon (1950)

The Idiot (1951)

Ikiru (1952)

Seven Samurai (1954)

I Live In Fear (1955)

Throne Of Blood (1957)

The Lower Depths (1957)

The Hidden Fortress (1958)

The Bad Sleep Well (1960)

Yojimbo (1961)

Sanjuro (1962)

High And Low (1963)

Red Beard (1965)

Dodes’ka-den (1970)

Kagemusha (1980)

Madadayo (1993)

Here’s the Criterion trailer to showcase the box set.

(Box set photos courtesy of The Auteurs.)