Lyman, Rick. “Akira Kurosawa, Film Director, Is Dead at 88: Akira Kurosawa, Director of 'Rashomon' and 'Seven Samurai,' Dies at
88.” New York Times 7 Sep. 1998: A1.
This obituary of acclaimed director Akira Kurosawa appeared in the New York Times September 7, 1998. As in accordance with the format of obituaries, the author, Rick Lyman, chronicles the details of Kurosawa’s death, life, and fame. He is humanized with demonstrations of his perfectionism, humble family life, and personal influences and experiences that help explain how this great man and his masterpieces came to be. Particularly informative was the anecdote provided about a trip taken in his youth with his brother, Heigo. The two visited the ruins of the once great city of Toyko after a massive earthquake and firestorm of 1923. When his brother forced the young Kurosawa to stay firm and look, Kurosawa developed the outlook that would define his aesthetic enterprises throughout his life. He learned that “‘to be an artist means never to avert one’s eyes.’” Such steadfast investigation into the physical world and the life that inhabits it brought about his unforgettable shots of the forests scenes, for example, in Rashomon. The influence of his brother Heigo is stressed in this article, mentioning Heigo’s taste of story-telling and speculation as to the emotional impact of Heigo’s suicide. Rashomon is mentioned as also introducing the now formulalistic style of narration, namely the recounting of one event through difference characters perspectives. The complex intertwining of characters and recolations highlight the unifying theme of what Kurosawa terms a “‘sinful need for flattering falsehood.’” Kurosawa communicates the plight of humans to always desire to better themselves with lies to listening ears, and laments the inability of humans to contentedly coexist with one another. Such themes bring Kurosawa’s work out of the brilliance of their setting into the history of cinematic culture and universal intercourse.
The benefit of obituaries in studying an artist and an individual piece of his work is that it allows one to put the two in the context of his life and body of work as a whole. The film Rashomon takes on a whole new perspective when placed into this longer framework. However, the individual analysis of the film itself is very insightful and would be valuable when used to specifically study of the film.