Combined US/Japanese Effort Preserves a Landmark in Japanese Cinema; Academy Presents 3 Month Celebration of Akira Kurosawa
Source: Kadokawa Pictures, The Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences
Special Thanks to Oki Miyano
- Kadokawa Pictures press release: The Rashomon Restoration Project
- The Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences press release: Academy to Salute Akira Kurosawa
The Rashomon Restoration Project
Kadokawa Culture Promotion Foundation and The Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences
It has been ten years since the legendary director Akira Kurosawa (March 23, 1910 – September 6, 1998) passed away. Kadokawa Pictures is now completing the task of digitally restoring Kurosawa’s RASHOMON with The Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences. Considering RASHOMON’s arts and cultural values, Kadokawa Culture Promotion Foundation, The Academy of Motion Pictures Arts and Sciences in the US, and The Film Foundation decided to support the restoration project. RASHOMON is the first Japanese film to be restored by the Academy and the Film Foundation. Also for this project, the digital restoration will be done at 4K for the first trial in Japanese film history.
Released in Japan on August 26th, 1950 and exported soon thereafter, RASHOMON was immediately recognized as signal achievement in cinema. The film won the Golden Lion at the Venice Film Festival in 1951 and received an honorary Academy Award (Best Foreign Language Film) in the following year.
The project is supervised by Michael Pogorzelski, the director of the Academy Film Archive and a renowned film archivist. From Japan, the National Film Center joins the project to provide technical and academic advice.
The restored film will be shown on September 18th at the Samuel Goldwyn Theater (8949 Wilshire Blvd., Beverly Hills, CA 90211) as a special event of Kurosawa retrospective “Akira Kurosawa: Film Artist” (September 19-December 14).
• Restoration Process: Scanning RASHOMON at 4K to digitize the film =>Restoring damaged film as digital data=>Recording out the restored film at 4K on a new film stock (producing a new negative).
• The picture restoration is handled by Lowry Digital and YCM laboratory. The audio restoration is done by DJ Audio and Audio Mechanics (all vendors are in Burbank, CA).
• Digitally restored Japanese feature films to date: SHIN HEIKE MONOGATARI (Kadokawa Pictures/Kenji Mizoguchi/1955), 24 EYES (Shochiku/Keisuke Kinoshita/1954), VESSEL OF SAND (Shochiku/Yoshitaro Nomura/1974)
Comments from those involved:
“I would like to express my sincere appreciation for the support of the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences, The National Film Center, and The Film Foundation, in the restoration of RASHOMON. This has been a significant cultural collaboration between Japan and the United States.”
“Six years ago I stepped into the vaults of Daiei Studios for the first time with Mr. Yoji Yamada, one of the most esteemed Japanese directors. Upon seeing the shelves filled with film cans, the director praised the quality of Daiei pictures and the people who worked for the studio. He said the films were a national treasure. Soon after that, Kadokawa Pictures consigned the collection to the National Film Center. Having inspected the collection, we found out that quite a few of the negatives had been damaged over time. We recognized this as a crisis of our cultural heritage, and took decisive action.”
“The Kadokawa Culture Promotion Foundation instituted a preservation program, and from the collection, we selected 1600 key films for our earliest attention. RASHOMON is one of the most important of these. I deeply hope that the presentation of Kurosawa’s digitally restored masterpiece on the 10th anniversary of his death will contribute to a deeper understanding of the importance of film preservation as the key to our rich cultural heritage, and to a renewed appreciation of the Japanese cinema on the part of future generations.”
– Tsuguhiko Kadokawa, chairman of The Kadokawa Culture Promotion Foundation
“Kadokawa Pictures’ archive consists of films made by Daiei Studios, Kadokawa Pictures, and Nippon Herald Pictures. Thanks to the help of the National Film Center, in 2004 we started the preservation and restoration of this important heritage with the support of the Kadokawa Culture Promotion Foundation. I believe that the digitally restored RASHOMON will become a touchstone for cinema preservation. Combining adept use of digital tools with the meticulous curatorship at the heart of traditional archival work, the restoration has preserved the authenticity of the original artistic achievement by making use of the most advanced technologies.”
“Now, Kurosawa’s RASHOMON, more than 50 years old, will appear on the screen with the same power and beauty as when it was first released. It is most appropriate that this restoration was the result of an international partnership between public and private institutions in Japan and America, because it underscores our common heritage – the cinema – and our commitment to preserve it.”
– Taiichi Inoue, president of Kadokawa Pictures
• RASHOMON site by Kadokawa Pictures
• The Academy of Motion Pictures Arts and Sciences
• The Film Foundation
• National Film Center The National Museum of Modern Art, Tokyo
• Kadokawa Culture Promotion Foundation
Toshiro Mifune … Tajomaru
Machiko Kyo … Masago Kanazawa
Takashi Shimura … Woodcutter
Masayuki Mori … Takehiro Kanazawa
Minoru Chiaki … Priest
Kichijiro Ueda … Commoner
Noriko Honma … Medium
Daisuke Kato … Policeman
Director… Akira Kurosawa
Scenario… Akira Kurosawa / Shinobu Hashimoto
Based on two stories by Ryunosuke Akutagawa
Photography … Kazuo Miyagawa
Art director … Takashi Matsuyama
Music… Fumio Hayasaka
Lighting … Kenichi Okamoto
• Release Date
August 26th, 1950
One rainy day in 12th century Japan, a monk and a woodcutter sat deep in thought under the half broken city gate of Rashomon. A man rushed into the gate, seeking shelter from the pouring rain. After being asked, the monk and the woodcutter began to tell the newcomer their mysterious story. A famous robber named Tajyomaru attacked a samurai and his wife in a forest. The robber was captured and put on trial, however the accounts of the three participants were all significantly different from each other.
Venice Film Festival (1951) – Golden Lion: Akira Kurosawa and Italian Film Critics Award: Akira Kurosawa
Honorary Award (Academy Award for Best Foreign Language Film) (1952)- 25th Academy Awards, USA (1953) – Won: Academy Honorary Award, Nominated: Academy
Mainichi Film Concours (1951) – Best Actress: Machiko Kyo (Japan)
The film took the number five spot on Kinema Junpo‘s top ten list for 1950
Aspect ratio 1.37 : 1 / B&W / MONO / Nine reels / 2046m / 88minutes
Production of Daiei Kyoto Studio
Kadokawa Pictures’ Genban-hozon (Film Preservation) Project
Kadokawa Pictures owns the combined libraries of Daiei, Kadokawa Pictures, and Nippon Herald Films, a collection of more than 1600 feature motion pictures that includes many Japanese favorites and also internationally renowned classics of cinema.
Kadokawa believes that preservation of these precious cultural assets is an obligation of the highest order. We believe that these films represent an important facet of Japanese culture, and that there is significant public benefit in their preservation. The restoration of these films is motivated by cultural and educational imperatives.
Kadokawa’s negatives are conserved in the National Film Center’s temperature-controlled vault in Sagamihara City. This storage minimizes deterioration and helps to preserve the integrity of the original negatives. Unfortunately, like all celluloid, all of the film negatives will eventually suffer chemical decomposition. Therefore, supported by Kadokawa Culture Promotion Foundation, we began preservation and restoration of our collection in 2004. We organized the “Genban-hozon (Film Preservation) Project ” to inspect, restore and duplicate the fragile original negatives for archival purposes.
Following SHIN HEIKE MONOGATARI (Taira Clan Saga), RASHOMON is our second film to be digitally restored.
Academy to Salute Akira Kurosawa
Premiering a New Digitally-Restored Print of RASHOMON and Unveiling a New Exhibition Featuring Kurosawa’s Original Artwork
The Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences will salute the life and career of director Akira Kurosawa during a three-month celebration that will include a retrospective screening series and a new exhibition showcasing the director’s original artwork, which has rarely been seen outside of Japan.
The kickoff will be Thursday, September 18, at 8 p.m., when the Academy will premiere of a new restoration of the 1950 masterpiece RASHOMON in the Samuel Goldwyn Theater. Hosted by Los Angeles Times film critic Kenneth Turan, the evening will include a panel discussion with Kurosawa’s collaborators, friends and family, including son Hisao Kurosawa, who is the head of Kurosawa Productions. Following the film and discussion, the new exhibition “Akira Kurosawa: Film Artist” will be unveiled in the Academy galleries in Beverly Hills.
“An Academy Salute to Akira Kurosawa” will continue with screenings of five more of the director’s Academy Award-nominated and winning films – KAGEMUSHA, SEVEN SAMURAI, RAN and DERSU UZALA – on Friday and Saturday evenings through October 4 (details below).
RASHOMON was restored by the Academy Film Archive in association with the Kadokawa Culture Promotion Foundation and The Film Foundation. The best surviving picture element was a 35mm release print, made from the original nitrate negative (which no longer exists), held within the collection of the National Film Center in Tokyo. The print was scanned at 4K resolution, and digital tools were used to clear the scratches, dirt and abrasions that existed in virtually every frame. The numerous pops, hisses, crackles and distortions on the print’s audio were also digitally removed.
“Akira Kurosawa: Film Artist” will present more than 100 of Kurosawa’s original pre-production drawings and paintings alongside many of the art supplies, calligraphy materials, annotated screenplays, props and hand-painted costumes that he used to explore and refine his artistic vision.
Photographs, posters, marketing materials, correspondence and film clips illuminating his nearly seven-decade career will round out the exhibition.
In 1989 the Academy presented him with an Honorary Award (an Oscar statuette) “for accomplishments that have inspired, delighted, enriched and entertained audiences and influenced filmmakers throughout the world.”
The screening schedule for “An Academy Salute to Akira Kurosawa” is as follows:
At the Samuel Goldwyn Theater:
Thursday, September 18, at 8 p.m.
RASHOMON (1950) – Premiering a new restoration, with special viewing of the “Akira Kurosawa: Film Artist” exhibition following the program
Set in feudal Japan, this crime drama depicts a violent incident from four different points of view, questioning the very nature of truth.
Academy Award winner (1951): Honorary Foreign Language Film Award (Japan)
Academy Award nominee (1952): Black-and-White Art Direction (Takashi Matsuyama; Set Decoration: H. Matsumoto)
Friday, September 19, at 8 p.m.
KAGEMUSHA (1980) – Premiering a new print, with special viewing hours for the exhibition “Akira Kurosawa: Film Artist” from 6 to 8 p.m.
When a powerful warlord is mortally wounded, a common thief who bears a striking resemblance to him is called upon to become his “double” to maintain the clan’s aura of strength.
Academy Award nominee: Art Direction (Yoshiro Muraki), Foreign Language Film (Japan)
At the Linwood Dunn Theater:
Friday, September 26, at 7:30 p.m.
SEVEN SAMURAI (1954) – Premiering a new print
In 16th century Japan, seven wandering swordsmen band together to defend an isolated farming village against marauding bandits.
Academy Award nominee (1956): Black-and-White Art Direction (Takashi Matsuyama, Black-and-White Costume Design (Kohei Ezaki)
Saturday, September 27, at 7:30 p.m.
RAN (1985) – Premiering a new print
The story of King Lear, 16th century Japanese civil war history, and the legend of Morikawa, a feudal warlord with three sons, come together in this intense examination of family betrayal and the precariousness of human relationships.
Academy Award winner: Costume Design (Emi Wada)
Academy Award nominee: Art Direction (Yoshiro Muraki, Shinobu Muraki), Cinematography (Takao Saito, Masaharu Ueda, Asakazu Nakai), Directing (Akira Kurosawa).
Friday, October 3, at 7:30 p.m.
In a village divided by rival factions, a samurai warrior who is courted by both sides devises his own plan to rid the community of its criminals.
Academy Award nominee: Black-and-White Costume Design (Yoshiro Muraki)
Saturday, October 4, at 7:30 p.m.
DERSU UZALA (1975) – Premiering a new print
Dersu Uzala, a hunter living alone in the taiga forests of Eastern Siberia, becomes a friend and mentor to a Russian Army engineer.
Academy Award winner: Foreign Language Film (Union of Soviet Socialist Republics)
Tickets to each of the Kurosawa retrospective screenings, including RASHOMON, are $5 for the general public and $3 for Academy members and students with a valid ID. Tickets are available for purchase by mail, at the Academy box office (Monday through Friday, 9 a.m. to 5 p.m.), or online at www.oscars.org. Doors open one hour prior to event. All seating is unreserved.
The Samuel Goldwyn Theater is located at 8949 Wilshire Boulevard in Beverly Hills.
The Linwood Dunn Theater is located at 1313 Vine Street in Hollywood.
“Akira Kurosawa: Film Artist” will be on display through Sunday, December 14. The Academy’s Grand Lobby and Fourth Floor galleries, located at 8949 Wilshire Boulevard in Beverly Hills, are open Tuesdays through Fridays, 10 a.m. to 5 p.m., and weekends, noon to 6 p.m. The Academy will be closed during the Thanksgiving holiday weekend – Thursday, November 27 through Sunday, November 30. Admission is free.
For more information call (310) 247-3600 or visit www.oscars.org/events.
About the Academy
The Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences is the world’s preeminent movie-related organization, with a membership of more than 6,000 of the most accomplished men and women working in cinema. In addition to the annual Academy Awards – in which the members vote to select the nominees and winners – the Academy presents a diverse year-round slate of public programs, exhibitions and events; provides financial support to a wide range of other movie-related organizations and endeavors; acts as a neutral advocate in the advancement of motion picture technology; and, through its Margaret Herrick Library and Academy Film Archive, collects, preserves, restores and provides access to movies and items related to their history. Through these and other activities the Academy serves students, historians, the entertainment industry and people everywhere who love movies.