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Japanese Classics

From the samurai thrillers of Kurosawa and the beautiful melodramas of Naruse to classic sci-fi, this collection celebrates the extraordinary diversity of Japanese cinema.

While little known in the west until Akira Kurosawa’s Rashomon won the Golden Lion at Venice in 1951, Japanese cinema is now regarded as one of the great canons of world film.

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Japanese Classics
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View 100 Years of Japanese Cinema
100 Years of Japanese Cinema

100 Years of Japanese Cinema 1996

Archive propels argument in this fascinating exploration of the social and cultural importance of Japan's film heritage.

52 mins United Kingdom Director. Nagisa Oshima

View The Bad Sleep Well
The Bad Sleep Well

The Bad Sleep Well 1960 PG

The first film made by Akira Kurosawa's own production company is a dark tale of greed, corporate corruption and revenge.

135 mins Japan Director. Akira Kurosawa

View Dodes'Ka-Den
Dodes'Ka-Den

Dodes'Ka-Den 1970 12

Akira Kurosawa’s first colour film is an eccentric and joyous account of a group of disparate people living in a city dump.

127 mins Japan Director. Akira Kurosawa

View Floating Clouds
Floating Clouds

Floating Clouds 1955 12

Mikio Naruse’s masterpiece about a wandering woman trying to find her identity amid the devastation of post-war Japan.

118 mins Japan Director. Mikio Naruse

View Godzilla (1954)
Godzilla (1954)

Godzilla (1954) 1954 PG

The original Godzilla - arguably the definitive monster movie - both a bold metaphor for the atomic age and a thrilling powerhouse of pioneering special effects.

92 mins Japan Director. Ishiro Honda

View The Hidden Fortress
The Hidden Fortress

The Hidden Fortress 1958 PG

Akira Kurosawa’s thrilling mix of fairy story and samurai movie - a story of rival clans, hidden gold and a princess in distress - was famously a key inspiration for George Lucas’ Star Wars.

139 mins Japan Director. Akira Kurosawa

View High and Low
High and Low

High and Low 1963 12

Akira Kurosawa’s procedural crime masterpiece, from Ed McBain’s gritty novel, follows an industrialist who faces an agonising choice as a result of a botched kidnapping by ruthless criminals.

143 mins Japan Director. Akira Kurosawa

View Ikiru
Ikiru

Ikiru 1952 PG

Takashi Shimura is superb as a bureaucrat diagnosed with cancer in Akira Kurosawa’s lyrical and moving film about how we find meaning in our lives.

137 mins Japan Director. Akira Kurosawa

View I Live in Fear
I Live in Fear

I Live in Fear 1955 PG

Toshiro Mifune delivers an outstanding performance as a paranoid man striving to move his family to Brazil to escape the nuclear holocaust which he fears is imminent.

99 mins Japan Director. Akira Kurosawa

View Late Chrysanthemums
Late Chrysanthemums

Late Chrysanthemums 1954 PG

The story of four ageing geishas as they struggle to make ends meet in post-war Japan, from acclaimed filmmaker Mikio Naruse.

97 mins Japan Director. Mikio Naruse

View The Lower Depths
The Lower Depths

The Lower Depths 1957 PG

Akira Kurosawa’s adaptation of Maxim Gorky’s novel, in which inhabitants of a slum revel in illusions to avoid bitter reality.

120 mins Japan Director. Akira Kurosawa

View They Who Tred on the Tiger's Tail
They Who Tred on the Tiger's Tail

They Who Tred on the Tiger's Tail 1952 PG

Adapted from Noh and Kabuki theatre, Kurosawa’s classic tale of deception sees a lord and his bodyguard disguise themselves as monks to bypass an enemy roadblock.

Japan Director. Akira Kurosawa

View The Most Beautiful
The Most Beautiful

The Most Beautiful 1944 U

Akira Kurosawa’s artful propaganda film provides a fascinating portrait of female volunteer workers in an optics factory during wartime.

85 mins Japan Director. Akira Kurosawa

View The Mysterians
The Mysterians

The Mysterians 1957 PG

The team behind Godzilla (1954) reunites for Toho’s first colour widescreen sci-fi, an arresting spectacle about the arrival of an alien race and their giant, destructive robot.

85 mins Japan Director. Ishiro Honda

View No Regrets for Our Youth
No Regrets for Our Youth

No Regrets for Our Youth 1946 PG

Kurosawa's first post-war film stars Setsuko Hara as the privileged daughter of a professor who takes up arms against the Japanese military.

Japan Director. Akira Kurosawa

View One Wonderful Sunday
One Wonderful Sunday

One Wonderful Sunday 1947 PG

Kurosawa’s bitter-sweet story of young love set in the devastation of post-war Tokyo.

108 mins Japan Director. Akira Kurosawa

View Ran
Ran
HD

Ran 1985 12

Akira Kurosawa’s visually spectacular epic transplants Shakespeare’s King Lear from Celtic Britain to feudal Japan.

155 mins France Director. Akira Kurosawa

View Rashomon
Rashomon

Rashomon 1950 12

Credited with bringing Japanese cinema to worldwide audiences, Akira Kurosawa’s breakthrough tells the story of a murder in the woods from four differing perspectives.

88 mins Japan Director. Akira Kurosawa

View Red Beard
Red Beard

Red Beard 1965 15

Kurosawa’s episodic, poignant story of a 19th-century doctor (Toshiro Mifune) working in a clinic for the poor and his tumultuous friendship with young intern.

172 mins Japan Director. Akira Kurosawa

View Sanjuro
Sanjuro

Sanjuro 1962 PG

In Akira Kurosawa's comedy of manners, a ronin runs rings around nine young, clean-cut samurai while cleaning up a spot of corruption in local government.

95 mins Japan Director. Akira Kurosawa

View Sanshiro Sugata
Sanshiro Sugata

Sanshiro Sugata 1943 PG

Kurosawa’s assured debut film about a young man’s spiritual journey through the study and practice of judo.

79 mins Japan Director. Akira Kurosawa

View Sanshiro Sugata part two
Sanshiro Sugata part two

Sanshiro Sugata part two 1945 PG

This sequel reunites most of the principal cast from the original and follows Sanshiro face a new set of enemies whilst continuing his quest to become a judo master.

83 mins Japan Director. Akira Kurosawa

View Seven Samurai
Seven Samurai
HD

Seven Samurai 1954 PG

Farmers hire a band of samurai to defend them against marauding bandits in Kurosawa’s influential epic, a touchstone for action movies ever since.

200 mins Japan Director. Akira Kurosawa

View Stray Dog
Stray Dog

Stray Dog 1949 PG

Akira Kurosawa’s masterful mix of film noir and police thriller set on the sweltering mean streets of occupied Tokyo.

122 mins Japan Director. Akira Kurosawa

View Throne of Blood
Throne of Blood

Throne of Blood 1957 12

A master of period-drama, Kurosawa (Rashomon, Seven Samurai) recasts Macbeth as a Japanese warlord in one of the greatest Shakespearean adaptations.

109 mins Japan Director. Akira Kurosawa

View When a Woman Ascends the Stairs
When a Woman Ascends the Stairs

When a Woman Ascends the Stairs 1960 PG

Mikio Naruse’s best-known film is a masterful study of Ginza hostess struggling under constant pressures to compromise her honour.

106 mins Japan Director. Mikio Naruse

View Woman of the Dunes
Woman of the Dunes

Woman of the Dunes 1964 15

Hiroshi Teshigahara's mystifying, serene and provocative fable about an entomologist who becomes trapped in a young widow’s desert shack.

141 mins Japan Director. Hiroshi Teshigahara

View Yojimbo
Yojimbo

Yojimbo 1961 PG

Kurosawa’s classic about a drifting samurai who plays two gangs off against each other, famously remade as A Fistful of Dollars.

106 mins Japan Director. Akira Kurosawa

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