Friday, February 10, 2006

Kurosawa view on Postmodernism and Multiculturalism

Akira Kurosawa is perhaps my most favorite film maker in the history of cinema. His works is the best proofs that postmodernism and multiculturalism are wrong. There are many critics of both postmodernism and multiculturalism – but Kurosawa is perhaps the best and the most successful critic.

Among the best of Kurosawa works are two of my favorite movies, “Ran” and “Throne of Blood.” The first is based on Shakespeare’s “King Lear. The second is based on Shakespeare’s “Macbeth.” The two movies are Kurosawa declaration of universalism and a condemnation of postmodernism and multiculturalism.
“Ran” and “Throne of Blood” are both set in medieval Japan – a period known as Sengoku-jidai (The Warring State Period). Kurosawa did not simply doing imitations of Shakespeare. He had done something amazing. Here are two movies made my a modern Japanese, inspired by a playwright living in Renaissance England, transposed to medieval Japan, through modern medium (cinema), created masterpieces that are loved and understood by modern movie viewers across the globe. When I first watched the movies, I simply thought that the movies are Japanese movies about medieval Japan. To someone who is unfamiliar with Western classic literature, there is nothing to suggest that the movies derived from a Western source. I did not recognize Shakespeare in Kurosawa. I did not know anything about Shakespeare at the time. But later, studying Shakespeare in college, I recognized Kurosawa in Shakespeare.

By making these two movies, Kurosawa rejected postmodernism and its offspring, multiculturalism. Postmodernism rejects that words have no intrinsic meaning, that there is no universal human value. In fact, there is no such thing as value. This philosophy then gave birth to modern multiculturalism. Kurosawa through his movies demonstrated that there are universal values that transcend time, space, and culture.
I invite readers to watch “Ran” and “Throne of Blood,” as well as other Kurosawa’s movies.


Blogger Pedro said...


I had read of Kurosawa before, but now after your endorsement I will certainly check it out. It sounds refreshing. Maybe Hollywood could take some hints from him.

I always thought that one of the reasons that epics like Star Wars and Lord of the Rings are so universally popular is that they have unambiguous portrayals of evil. (That's evil, not "evil" with "quote marks" around it -- something postmodernists cannot bring themselves to do.) I've been all over the world, and EVERYBODY, of all races and colors and cultures, loves Star Wars. Critics, however, dislike the "black and white" portrayal of good and evil as too simplistic.

It is human nature to recognize and fight evil. To pretend evil doesn't exist is dangerous, like throwing sand in your eyes and then walking along a cliff.

5:45 PM  
Anonymous ElMondoHummus said...

"Postmodernism rejects that words have no intrinsic meaning, that there is no universal human value. In fact, there is no such thing as value."

I don't know if that's the way it was supposed to start out. Postmodernism's laudable early goals were simply to emphasize the existence and legitimacy of alternate beliefs and values. I never in the beginning read it as being any attack on what the observing culture holds dear; it was merely a way to expand and also embrace alternate views. Unfortunately, it's morphed into what today is this ugly thing that you describe. It's one thing to point out the values and worldviews of other cultures, but it's a whole other thing altogether to use that to diminish or attempt to eradicate the values and worldviews of one's own culture.

It wasn't supposed to turn out that way.

The key to living with other cultures is to acknowledge the differences and celebrate the similarities. Subsiding one's own mindset and philosophies in order to over-elevate and over value the "other" is an abrogation of an academic's responsibility to knowledge, not to mention a ridiculous prejudice. An person, whether an academic, a philosopher, a politician, or whatever, must work to derive what's important and valuable about their own culture as well as the "other" one. But reducing all values as being "equal" and not recognizing that some are, in fact, shared, is a ridiculous attempt to apply a false level of objectivity to this concept, as well as impose a value judgement which contradicts any hope of objectivity altogether. "Deconstruction" is supposed to lead to understanding by examining the underlying values, references, and assumptions of a given "text", but way to many have interpreted deconstruction as meaning "apply cynical filters to my analysis of a given subject". Deconstruction is a study of underlying components, not a tearing-down of a given subject. It was meant to aid understanding, not diminish current values. But that's the way it's employed nowadays. And that's a shame.

Again, it wasn't supposed to be that way. But that's the way it's ended up. And that's a shame.


To go tangental, and mention Samurai films (not necessarily Kurosawa), but not talk about postmodernism or multiculturalism: Ran. Terrific film. Even through the barriers of language and foreign cultural values, it was still a terrifically evocative movie. Have not seen Throne of Blood. Here's a couple of interesting non-Kurosawa samurai flicks I recommend in return:

"Ten to Chi to", also known as "Heaven and Earth" (Not the Oliver Stone Vietnam flick). Interesting film, and slightly challenging in a way: The "good" guy wears black and executes two innocent non-combatants :). But he's good in the value-mindset off the film becaus of what he's fighting for.

Also: "Mibu gishi den", also called "When the Last Sword is Drawn". A sort of attempt to make a "realistic" samurai flick. The storyline involves the re-evaluation of the mindset of an ex-samurai who externally was the epitome of the rugged, dedicated, talented samurai but inside was an incredibly cynical, jaded person. And his spiritual "journey" was inspired by a comrade who was the exact opposite: Externally a shambles, and embarrassement, but internally a dedicated epitome of what a samurai was meant to be. Very interesting film.

11:10 AM  
Blogger Dymphna said...

I love Ozu films...they are so human, so Japanese. I am always moved by them.

BTW, Minh Duc, if you have the chance, rent "13 Conversations" -- it twists around itself like a Mobius strip and will stay with you for awhile...

8:04 AM  
Anonymous DWMF said...

May I also recommend "Kagemusha" (Shadow Warrior)? Another masterpiece. This film is not Manichean like the films Pedro mentions, but shows how a dead man can outwit the living - for a while...

6:17 AM  
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11:29 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I had created studyBuy Cheap RS Gold of Kurosawa ahead of, the good news is after the endorsement I will surely give it a look. It appears refreshing. Possibly Hollywood could take a number of Buy MapleStory Mesostips coming from him or her.

7:54 PM  

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