All film screenings and public programs at BAMPFA have been temporarily canceled. Learn more
BAMPFA Student Committee Pick!
Tatsuya Nakadai, Tsutomu Yamazaki, Kenichi Hagiwara, Kota Yui,
Unable to secure funding for this samurai epic, Kurosawa instead channeled key scenes of the film into beautifully rendered, intricate paintings; by showing or selling these paintings to investors and interested parties (including George Lucas and Francis Ford Coppola, who helped the director gain Hollywood studio support), he was finally able to raise enough money to film the tale of a king, his double, and the scheming and warfare of feudal Japan. Tatsuya Nakadai is both the lord who wishes to keep his kingdom (and those he’s conquered) united, and his double, a petty thief rescued from the gallows to live as his kagemusha, or “shadow warrior.” Filled with fascinating juxtapositions of stillness and movement, madness and calm, Kagemusha is a work of visual poetry on an unmatched scale, with Kurosawa literally soaking the landscape (and his extras) in pools of red, purple, yellow, and green; it is, as scholar Stephen Prince writes, “painting in motion.”