Read The Emperor and the Wolf: The Lives and Films of Akira Kurosawa and Toshiro Mifune by Stuart Galbraith Stuart Galbraith IV Online


Akira Kurosawa and Toshiro Mifune made sixteen feature films together, including Rashomon, Seven Samurai, and Yojimbo -- all undisputed masterworks of world cinema. The Emperor and the Wolf is an in-depth look at these two great artists and their legacy that brims with behind-the-scenes details, many never before known, about their tumultuous lives and stormy relationshipsAkira Kurosawa and Toshiro Mifune made sixteen feature films together, including Rashomon, Seven Samurai, and Yojimbo -- all undisputed masterworks of world cinema. The Emperor and the Wolf is an in-depth look at these two great artists and their legacy that brims with behind-the-scenes details, many never before known, about their tumultuous lives and stormy relationships with the studios and with one another. More than just a biography, though, The Emperor and the Wolf is also an impromptu history of Japanese cinema -- its development, filmmakers, and performers -- and a provocative look at postwar American and Japanese culture and the different lenses through which two great societies viewed each other....

Title : The Emperor and the Wolf: The Lives and Films of Akira Kurosawa and Toshiro Mifune
Author :
Rating :
ISBN : 9780571199822
Format Type : Hardcover
Number of Pages : 848 Pages
Status : Available For Download
Last checked : 21 Minutes ago!

The Emperor and the Wolf: The Lives and Films of Akira Kurosawa and Toshiro Mifune Reviews

  • Chris
    2018-11-16 20:10

    This book had come out a few years ago, and I kept waiting to buy it. Several years later, and now out of print, it commands up to several hundred dollars.I staked out Ebay and after time sniped a softcover for $50. I was pretty damned excited.For the first few chapters I was on fire. Here was an in-depth, passionate, clearly written biography of an amazing pair of collaberators- Akira Kurosawa, director and Toshiro Mifune, actor. I couldn't wait to read more.So much for that.About 1/3 of the way through I have come to find this is more of a chronological summary of each film. There is precious little biographical detail aside from release dates, synopsis, production budgets, and credit lists. It takes a lot of sifting through the facts, to get to any nuggets of insight into either man.I'm now power skimming through the book, trying to glean what I can before I loose interest or fall asleep. Not recommended except for the diligent or bored.=======================Having now, by pure force of will, finished the book my previous comments still stand. This was probably the least satisfying read since Capote, which was a real piece of crap. It's infuriating to read these huge tomes ostentatiously about major figures, only to come away with a sea of minor facts and random anecdotes. I think it would be a fair comment that if this was a high school book report, it would receive an E for EFFORT. I'd write more, but at least I know when to stop.

  • Dave
    2018-11-15 01:09

    A combination biography/filmography of both Kurosawa and Mifune. It's a huge book, and many of the films discussed are unavailable in English or outside of Japan, if at all. In some cases this is annoying -- some of them sound amazing -- and useful since your chances of finding them is basically nonexistent so some info is better than none. Galbraith goes to great lengths to paint Kurosawa and Mifune as the complex individuals that they are -- no simple "good guy" vs "bad guy" portraits -- while not sugar coating their sometimes horrible behaviors. If you're a fan of either man and/or their films, you'll probably want to at least read through it. Be warned: it's a huge, heavy book. Not for the dilettante and you may well want to skip through large chunks of "this film is unavailable" sections.

  • Chris
    2018-12-04 00:08

    This book is MASSIVE! I bought it back when it first came out and then stopped reading it because I felt like I was ruining the viewing experience for myself with the Kurosawa/Mifune films that I have yet to watch.Someday I will have watched all of them and then I will finish reading the book. I'm a nerd like that.

  • Tariq Beshty
    2018-11-23 23:08

    A filmography in the guise of biography.

  • Brent Ecenbarger
    2018-11-10 21:49

    "The Emperor and the Wolf” is an ambitious dual biography that succeeds to varying degrees depending on what you are expecting from it. I think there are five main areas that the author attempted to cover in this 600+ page treatise:1. The professional works of Akira Kurosawa2. The professional works of Toshiro Mifune3. Japanese Cinema from the 1940’s through the 1980’s4. The personal life of Akira Kurosawa5. The personal life of Toshiro MifuneI’ve used numbers instead of bullet points, because the amount of time spent on each of these topics is very uneven, which seemed to be the author’s intention. For example, I would estimate that 45% of the book is about topic number 1, 30% topic number 2, 10% about topic number 3, 10% topic number 4 and 5% topic number 5. For that reason, if you are mainly interested in how the films of these two individuals were made, what they were about, how much the cost, and what the critical and audience response to those films are, this is certainly the book for you. If you are hoping for anecdotes about Kurosawa’s personal life, his parenting, or his suicide attempt, you will have to dig through copious amounts of information about the plots of films he co-wrote or the resumes of actors he used in small parts to get a glimpse of it.There is also much more written about Kurosawa than Mifune in this book, which is likely to be expected considering their statures in the history of cinema. Even prior to their careers however, there is much more information on Kurosawa’s early life than Mifune’s, whose early years in China are tacked on to an extensive Kurosawa chapter as a seeming afterthought. Despite the disparity in content about the two, some interesting similarities were still present, such as both men being able to avoid conflict in World War II; Kurosawa by being medically ineligible, Mifune being stuck working with airplane cameras. Kurosawa was able to become a director much younger than many of his contemporaries that went into the field (at Toho, new directors apprenticed at being 2nd and 3rd assistant directors for years before being allowed to direct) by being recommended for an opening and taking advantage of it. Similarly, Mifune was able to jump to the front of the movie star line by earning Kurosawa’s favor at a “fresh face” audition (this was one of the better stories in the book, as Mifune’s anger confused the original judges on the panel, but Kurosawa saw it as potential unlike anybody else he had seen). Both individuals early careers are often forgotten or unknown to casual fans of Japanese cinema, with only their massive successes together really permeating American culture (films like “Seven Samurai,” “Yojimbo,” “Sanjuro,” “Hidden Fortress” and “High and Low” have either been seen by cinema junkies or been programmed into our brains by their American remakes and homages). This book did a nice job of educating me on some of those earliest films, such as “Sanshiro Sugata” for Kurosawa and “Snow Trail” for Mifune. On “Snow Trail,” for example, Mifune believed he was only hired because it was a dangerous mountain shoot and he was expendable in case he died during the shoot; there may have been some truth to that as in addition to acting he had to carry 100lbs of gear up with him before they could film. While both individuals had fame and acclaim in Japan by the time films like “Scandal” were made, it was not until “Rashomon” was released that both became well known to international audiences as well.The most interesting stories recalled in this book were related to “Seven Samurai,” my favorite Kurosawa film along with “Sanjuro.” A film that is about three hours long and tells the story of samurais recruited by farmers to protect their village, and ending with one of the most comprehensible battles scenes ever filmed was the end product of a 500 page script, detailing the history of every farmer, with details planned ahead of time as minute as cutting a characters hair in his first scene to illustrate the passage of time passed in the film by the regrowth of his hair in each subsequent appearance. Taking one year to film (by a company that routinely released over a hundred films a year), at the time it was released it was the longest and most expensive film in Japanese history.While I enjoyed the detailed histories of the films, and the critical analysis of both figures (both at the time of their work and in retrospect), the lack of personal information about both men was a disappointment for me. Tidbits such as that Mifune would never use an assistant, preferred to do things himself on films, or that he was considered kind by his co-stars, and always knew his lines were interesting, but they tended to add more to what sort of actor he was than what sort of person he was. Similarly, a break from discussing films to discuss Kurosawa buying a new house after “High and Low” was actually jarring in that it deviated the book’s pattern of discussing pre-production, movie plot, production and critical reception. The things I really wanted to know about these two men prior to reading this book involved their downfalls. Both enjoyed their largest successes working with each other, but despite that, they seemingly avoided each other for the last thirty years of their lives and had their worst critical and financial projects after going on their own. While definitive reasons and answers are never shared by either individual, the turning point for Kurosawa seemed to be his work on “Tora Tora Tora.” What was to be Kurosawa’s first work on an American picture ended up with him being removed and accused of having mental problems. Besides being his first American picture, it would have been his first picture in color and first with a new crew of non-Toho regulars. The result seems to be both a difficult situation for the director and a genuine breakdown on his part if daily set reports are to be believed. (In addition to that, he also had a dishonest translator dealing with the United States parent company). The result was Kurosawa’s temporary fall from grace, and by the time he was making films again, he believed that Mifune’s quality of work had slipped. Although scheduling problems was the official reason for the two not working together (and Mifune’s own production company certainly kept him busy) it seemed more likely it was Kurosawa’s resentment for Mifune appearing in (to his mind) subpar stuff like “Shogun” that disinterested him in his favorite leading actor.Despite the massive scope of this dual biography, I think it could have benefitted from one substantial addition accompanied by a corresponding major subtraction. Instead of the extensive plot summaries of every movie in both individual’s filmographies, adding a third individual to the subject matter in the form of Takashi Shimura would have provided some excellent contrast. While Mifune gained acclaim by starring in 16 of Kurosawa’s 30 films, his co-star in all of them was Takashi Shimura who acted in 21 of Kurosawa’s films, including starring in “Ikiru” (one of Kurosawa’s masterpieces that is focused on significantly in this book) without Mifune. Shimura also continued to act for Kurosawa through “Kagemusha” and had as interesting of a career outside of Kurosawa’s films that Mifune did (appearing in more Zatoichi films than Mifune, two Godzilla films, and in successful Kurosawa-less Mifune films like “Samurai III: Dual at Ganryu Island”). In addition to that, he was a father figure to Mifune and was close enough to him that when Mifune was dying in a hospital, Shimura’s widow was one of only 2 non-relatives allowed to see him. More than any other person, I associate him with Kurosawa and Mifune, and while mentioned frequently in this book his depiction as just the most common of Kurosawa’s stock actors seemed to shortchange him from his role as the other face of Kurosawa’s best films.

  • Rick
    2018-12-06 23:03

    If you're looking for biographical information on these two towering figures, then assume an extra star. I wasn't interested in the biographical stuff myself; I just wanted to read about some of the greatest movies ever made. That stuff is excellent, by the way. I like that the more underrated bits of Mifune's filmography (the stuff without Kurosawa) gets proper attention, particularly Samurai Rebellion, one of my very faorite films. I could condense a 100-150 page book out of this that I'd re-read constantly, but as it is I have to skip over a bunch of stuff that doesn't matter to me to get to those bits. Maybe someday I'll have a Kindle edition, so I can just bookmark all the important stuff!But yes, well-written and -researched, just meant more for other folks than for me, I think.

  • Spiros
    2018-11-29 20:04

    Phew, what a story. This tome is indispensable for anyone with any interest in Akira Kurosawa and Toshiro Mifune, and it offers valuable insights into the development of Japanese cinema as a whole from the end of the Second World War through the end of the 20th century. And while it's possible to question some of Galbraith's judgments (I like "Kagemusha" and "Scandal" a lot more than Galbraith seems to) he has opened my eyes to Kurosawa films I had no idea I wanted to see (especially "Madadayo" and "After the Rain"). Incidentally, Bosley Crowther, the New York Times movie reviewer, was a bit of an idiot.

  • Mark
    2018-11-29 20:02

    There aren't enough books on both Kurosawa and Mifune, two legends of Japanese cinema. You can't go wrong with this - it is more of a biography of their work than their lives, but it's the best out there at the minute. Well worth a read.

  • Yasmin
    2018-11-23 23:14

    I finished this book with the distinct impression the author takes films and film making too seriously. On a personal note I cheerfully skipped the reviews of the movies by U.S. critics, they're reviews would not reflect on me and happily I watched some of Akira Kurosawa's films without being influenced by reviews at all. Which in his case and in the case of many other movies it is wise not to follow film critic reviews, you may miss out on a treat otherwise! For myself I was look on film as an experiment. Likewise I don't look at paintings/plays/novels/etc. for masterpieces. Would a critic criticise the early Rembrandt for not being the later Rembrandt or vice versa, perhaps they do though? There didn't seem to be enough fascination for the movies, no curiosity! Under the guise of writing so many books, assisting in producing so many DVD features and documentaries that makes the author an expert. Well you certainly don't have to agree with every expert and I don't agree with this one. There is no sense of wonderment when he viewed these films, no feeling of Wow! Look at that!" Nor does he seem to write lovingly about these films or the people behind the creation of them. My first film of Akira Kurosawa that I watched was 'Dreams', in this book it was unfairly decimated and I believe strongly that the film is a wonderful creation of craftsmanship in cinema history. In many of the so called 'lesser films' there is so much joy, dignity and startling beauty, even in the misery there is something compelling in the ugliness. For any future reader of this book I advise most strenuously for you to watch the films yourself, as many as you can, and watch them more than once if you care to and then consider reading this book. Above all else make your own judgements. While it is detailed in the films themselves, there is very little in the actual lives of both men and it is seriously lacking for the third most important man in these films, Takashi Shimura. Without him this book is essentially nothing, without him the films he was in would not be as rich and golden. This book is therefore very disappointing.

  • Thomas Gardner
    2018-11-18 00:57

    As a huge fan of Kurosawa and Mifune, each getting my vote for the all time best in his chosen craft, I salivated over the possibility of reading this book, and paid through the nose on eBay to get one. While thrilled to learn of non-Kurosawa Japanese films I had never heard of and have since been watching, and grateful for the extensive research this author put in and the breadth of his knowledge, I had hoped for a more compelling read. I read a LOT of biographies, and enjoy those that have a flow and a personality that is usually only found in fiction. Well, not so here. This is journalism, straight up, and as such is not exactly a page turner. Each chapter is a carbon copy of the last in structure, exhausting in specificity and information, but sorely lacking in joie de vivre. As a diehard, I finished it and am grateful and better for it, and am awestruck by the amount of work and information it encompasses, but I leave without feeling that I had gotten to know either Kurosawa or Mifune, which was the primary goal I had gone into the work hoping to achieve.Recommended absolutely for diehards, not recommended at all for anyone who is not, as there is not enough life in it to get you past the first few pages. It is essentially a spreadsheet made of words. Would that more fiction writers would undertake this sort of thing and give life to the dead, but, generally speaking, we lack the sort of patience a monster of this proportion requires.

  • Psychopu
    2018-12-11 17:06

    Galbraith's book is a quick read, but quite dull for the most part. The beginning seems very promising, but after the first chapters the writing consists mostly in endless cataloguing of productions, film synopses, and critical reception of movies in the US, with some superficial historical and biographical notes thrown in for exhaustiveness' sake. There are many inaccuracies throughout and oversimplifications, too. As someone else said, Galbraith's work reads more like a filmography, although coming with trivia and overview on the Japanese film industry between the 20s and the 90s, than as a meaningful book about two of the most important figures in world cinema. Overall, the description of Kurosawa and Mifune as actual people and artists is mostly lifeless. The Emperor And The Wolf may however be useful as reference material, to some extent.

  • Michael Hawk
    2018-11-28 20:18

    Um, I have no review yet because I have been "reading" this book for like 4 years now. It is long. Not too long to not get through it, I'm just weird this way. So far though, valuable addition to my Japanese cinema library. It is a double biography weaving in and out of the lives of Kurosawa and Mifune and how the teacher and apprentice made some of the best films ever seen. I should really finish it soon. Right after I read.....

  • Jbondandrews
    2018-11-22 22:58

    I thought that Stuart Galbraith's book about Akira and Toshiro was wonderful! However I do wish there had been more about Takashi, though perhaps there is a biography about him about him out there somewhere.

  • Andrew Cioffi
    2018-12-03 23:48

    If you are a fan of the collaborative efforts of these two giants, this is an essential read. There is so much history behind what made it to the screen that enriches te experience of their films. Wonderful read. Very well written. I found that I could not put this book down.

  • Lauren
    2018-11-18 17:05

    A very thorough review of the lives and filmography of Kurosawa and Mifune. Spoiler alert: because the plot of each film is summarized, this book is full of spoilers, so don't read it right before watching the films!

  • Nick
    2018-11-29 22:17

    Honestly, I was never going to read this from start to finish; I don't have that kind of patience for most things, even subjects of deep interest. I'm reading this in fits and starts, from the middle, ten pages here, a photograph there Still, highly educational and inspiring. A book to keep.

  • Alex
    2018-11-18 18:09

    The Emperor and the Wolf: The Lives and Films of Akira Kurosawa and Toshiro Mifune by Stuart Galbraith IV (2002)

  • Sarah
    2018-12-02 00:18

    A very thorough and surprisingly readable dual biography of the two men behind some of my favorite films. Any information not contained in this book is likely unknowable.

  • Paul Apelgren
    2018-12-05 18:15

    Reading this book made me want to see every Kurosawa film ever made.