Film #176: MIFUNE: THE LAST SAMURAI
Mifune: The Last Samurai
4 out of 5 stars
Toshiro Mifune is a giant in Japanese and Western cinema whose footprint is large and influential. As an integral part of Akira Kurosawa’s filmography, Mifune helped define the Japanese samurai film (and, by extension of that, the American western) and helped redefine – with RASHOMON – cinematic narrative. Directed by WHITE LIGHT / BLACK RAIN director, Steven Okazaki, and narrated by Keanu Reeves, MIFUNE is an ode to Mifune which can, in many ways, act as a primer in Japanese cinema for those who want to know more. Literally every film mentioned in this documentary is worth seeing. Told using both personal photos of Mifune’s and Toho publicity shots (some of which are beautiful) and talking heads (Scorsese, Spielberg, and a jaw-dropping host of legendary Japanese actors), MIFUNE paints a frank and illuminating portrait of both the man and the artist. For example, I didn’t know he died of Alzheimer’s nor did I know George Lucas initially offered him the role of Obi-wan Kenobi. The film also does a good job of documenting Mifune’s relationship with Kurosawa. In fact, Kurosawa’s son helped get this film made. The film does come to a rather abrupt end, but it’s still an informative and sentimental (in a very good way) viewing experience. Highly recommended… especially for fans.