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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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Audition
Audition
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Audition

Horror1999115 minsDirector: Takashi Miike

Takashi Miike burst to international prominence with this deeply disturbing tale of a deadly young woman who turns the tables on her middle-aged suitor.

100 Years of Japanese Cinema
100 Years of Japanese Cinema
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100 Years of Japanese Cinema

Documentary199652 minsDirector: Nagisa Oshima

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

Dodes'Ka-Den
Dodes'Ka-Den
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Dodes'Ka-Den

Drama1970140 minsDirector: Akira Kurosawa

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

Godzilla
Godzilla
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Godzilla

Horror195492 minsDirector: Ishiro Honda

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

Floating Clouds
Floating Clouds
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Floating Clouds

Drama1955123 minsDirector: Mikio Naruse

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

Floating Weeds
Floating Weeds
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Floating Weeds

1959119 minsDirector: Yasujiro Ozu

Yasujiro Ozu's late-career, elegiac masterpiece about a travelling kabuki troupe that returns to the seaside town they visited years before.

High and Low
High and Low
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High and Low

Crime1963143 minsDirector: Akira Kurosawa

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.

The Hidden Fortress
The Hidden Fortress
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The Hidden Fortress

Martial arts1958139 minsDirector: Akira Kurosawa

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.

Ikiru
Ikiru
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Ikiru

Drama1952143 minsDirector: Akira Kurosawa

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.

Kwaidan
Kwaidan
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Kwaidan

Horror1964183 minsDirector: Masaki Kobayashi

This stunningly beautiful anthology of Japanese ghost stories is one of the most meticulously crafted supernatural films ever made.

I Live in Fear
I Live in Fear
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I Live in Fear

Drama1955103 minsDirector: Akira Kurosawa

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.

The Lower Depths
The Lower Depths
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The Lower Depths

Drama1957125 minsDirector: Akira Kurosawa

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

The Mysterians
The Mysterians
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The Mysterians

Science Fiction195785 minsDirector: Ishiro Honda

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.

The Men Who Tread on the Tiger's Tail
The Men Who Tread on the Tiger's Tail
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The Men Who Tread on the Tiger's Tail

Martial arts195259 minsDirector: Akira Kurosawa

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.

The Most Beautiful
The Most Beautiful
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The Most Beautiful

War194485 minsDirector: Akira Kurosawa

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

Late Chrysanthemums
Late Chrysanthemums
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Late Chrysanthemums

Drama1954101 minsDirector: Mikio Naruse

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

No Regrets for Our Youth
No Regrets for Our Youth
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No Regrets for Our Youth

Drama1946110 minsDirector: Akira Kurosawa

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

One Wonderful Sunday
One Wonderful Sunday
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One Wonderful Sunday

Drama1947109 minsDirector: Akira Kurosawa

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

Ran
Ran
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Ran

Drama1985154 minsDirector: Akira Kurosawa

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

Onibaba
Onibaba
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Onibaba

Period drama1964102 minsDirector: Kaneto Shindo

Stylish, symbolic and erotically charged Japanese horror in which the fortunes of a murderous mother-and-daughter team are upended by a strangely masked samurai.

Rashomon
Rashomon
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Rashomon

Crime195088 minsDirector: Akira Kurosawa

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.

Seven Samurai
Seven Samurai
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Seven Samurai

Drama1954207 minsDirector: Akira Kurosawa

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

Red Beard
Red Beard
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Red Beard

Drama1965180 minsDirector: Akira Kurosawa

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.

Sanjuro
Sanjuro
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Sanjuro

Crime196296 minsDirector: Akira Kurosawa

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.

Tokyo Story
Tokyo Story
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Tokyo Story

Drama1953136 minsDirector: Yasujiro Ozu

A constant fixture in critics' polls, Yasujiro Ozu's most enduring masterpiece is a beautifully nuanced exploration of filial duty, expectation and regret.

Sanshiro Sugata
Sanshiro Sugata
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Sanshiro Sugata

Crime194379 minsDirector: Akira Kurosawa

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

Sanshiro Sugata part two
Sanshiro Sugata part two
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Sanshiro Sugata part two

Crime194579 minsDirector: Akira Kurosawa

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.

Throne of Blood
Throne of Blood
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Throne of Blood

Drama1957110 minsDirector: Akira Kurosawa

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

Stray Dog
Stray Dog
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Stray Dog

Crime1949122 minsDirector: Akira Kurosawa

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

The Bad Sleep Well
The Bad Sleep Well
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The Bad Sleep Well

Crime1960151 minsDirector: Akira Kurosawa

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

Woman of the Dunes
Woman of the Dunes
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Woman of the Dunes

Animation & Artists Moving Image1964147 minsDirector: Hiroshi Teshigahara

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

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

1960111 minsDirector: Mikio Naruse

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

Yojimbo
Yojimbo
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Yojimbo

Crime1961111 minsDirector: Akira Kurosawa

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