Hol­ly­wood hon­ors Ja­panese sa­mu­rai ac­tor Toshiro Mi­fune

Kuwait Times - - LIFESTYLE -

Hol­ly­wood cel­e­brated the life of leg­endary Ja­panese ac­tor Toshiro Mi­fune on Mon­day, hon­or­ing him with a star on its iconic Walk of Fame two decades af­ter his death. Mi­fune rose to star­dom through Akira Kuro­sawa’s clas­sics, in­clud­ing “Rashomon” (1950) and “Seven Sa­mu­rai” (1954), with mas­cu­line por­tray­als of pow­er­ful war­lords that earned him a rep­u­ta­tion as the world’s best sa­mu­rai ac­tor. He died in Tokyo at that age of 77 in 1997. He had been mostly con­fined to his home since suf­fer­ing a heart at­tack five years ear­lier. His death shocked Ja­pan’s cin­ema in­dus­try, which took pride in him as its most pre­sentable ac­tor in in­ter­na­tional cin­ema, fondly call­ing him “Mi­fune of the world.”

Kuro­sawa cast Mi­fune in lead­ing roles in all but one of 17 films he made be­tween 1948 and 1965. “Rashomon,” in which Mi­fune played a cyn­i­cal ban­dit, won the Grand Prix award at the 1951 Venice Film Fes­ti­val. Mi­fune played a peas­ant-turned sa­mu­rai lead­ing farm­ers’ re­sis­tance against ban­dits in “Seven Sa­mu­rai,” which in­spired two Western re­makes, both ti­tled “The Mag­nif­i­cent Seven” (1960 and 2016).

Born in Qing­dao, China, on April 1, 1920, to a pho­to­graphic stu­dio owner, Mi­fune joined film com­pany Toho Co. in 1946 af­ter serv­ing six years in an Im­pe­rial Ja­panese Army aerial pho­tog­ra­phy unit dur­ing World War II. He ap­peared in around 170 fea­ture films, in­clud­ing such for­eign pro­duc­tions as Ter­ence Young’s “Red Sun” (1972) and Steven Spiel­berg’s “1941” (1979). He also starred in the 1980 pop­u­lar US tele­vi­sion mini-series “Shogun,” based on James Clavell’s best­selling book. Mi­fune’s last role on the sil­ver screen was in “Fukai Kawa (Deep River)” in 1995, in which he por­trayed a man tor­tured to the last mo­ment of his life by his ex­pe­ri­ence eat­ing one of his comrades dur­ing war.

He left as­sets of 630 mil­lion yen (then $5.4 mil­lion), according to lo­cal tax of­fi­cials. “My grand­fa­ther passed away when I was nine so the me­mories I have of him are mainly as a grand­fa­ther fig­ure, but I re­mem­ber him as a gen­tle­man at home,” said his grand­son, the ac­tor Rikiya Mi­fune. “He would talk in a gruff and manly man­ner and al­ways have per­fect pos­ture, like a true sa­mu­rai, even at home.” His life is the sub­ject of doc­u­men­tary “Mi­fune: The Last Sa­mu­rai,” screened at the Amer­i­can Film In­sti­tute’s AFI Fest this year. It is set to be re­leased in US the­aters on De­cem­ber 2.

Rikiya Mi­fune, grand­son of Ja­panese ac­tor Toshiro Mi­fune at­tends the post­hu­mous star cer­e­mony for Toshiro Mi­fune.


Rikiya Mi­fune, grand­son of Toshiro Mi­fune with fa­ther Shiro Mi­fune at­tends the post­hu­mous star cer­e­mony for Ja­panese ac­tor Toshiro Mi­fune in Hol­ly­wood.

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