SUGATA SANSHIRO (sanshiro sugata; judo saga) (1943 JAPAN) D/W: AKIRA KUROSAWA P: KEIJI MATSUZAKI
Susumu Fujita stars as the titular master of jujitsu (or judo) in Kurosawa`s directorial debut (based on Tsuneo Tomita`s novel, itself based on his judo teacher, the acclaimed Shiro Saigo). The slight story of how Sugata seeks purity in his duels with Takashi Shimura, then later Ryonosuke Tsukigata may lack dynamism for a modern audience, but it`s clear that Kurosawa was already a master storyteller and craftsman destined for great things (of which this film is one). Denjiro Okochi is Sugata`s teacher, Yukiko Todoroki the love interest. With Ranko Hanai, Ichiro Sugai, Yoshio Kosugi, Kokuten Koodoo and Soji Kiyokawa. The great b/w cinematography is by Akira Mimura. In 1944 the goverment censor cut out approx. 17 mins. which were never restored. The version that exists today is a `52 re-issue (in pretty beat-up shape). Some DVD versions have bad quality missing scenes (from a Russian archive print) as extras. It was followed by ZOKU SUGATA SANSHIRO, and remakes modelled after Kurosawa`s screenplay were in 1955, 56, 66, 70, 77 and 2007 (for tv).

A Sugata Sanshiro comic.

 

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