We are pleased to share Mamoun’s masterclass on Ozu’s masterpiece, Tokyo Story. Mamoun has revisited this film several times, but this most recent visit at the European Film College in Ebeltoft allowed him to discuss the film with the students in detail.
I paid a visit to the National Film Television School in Beaconsfield last week where I introduced Kurosawa’s ‘Stray Dog‘ to students as part of the Screen Arts course led by Dominic Power (pictured left with me). The movie genre is ‘Gendai Geki’ – which means modern (i.e. set in post-1868 Japan). It deals with crime and social issues in post-war Tokyo under American occupation.
In particular I wanted to highlight composer Hayazaka’s unusual working relationship with Kurosawa and alert the students to how his use of sound contributes to story-telling. You can watch a film of the introduction here:
Mamoun’s introduction to Stray Dog, 1949, Dir. Akira Kurosawa – recorded at the National Film and Television School.
Stray Dog, Censorship and the Occupation of Japan (1945 – 1952)
Stray Dog title sequence
In the title sequence of Stray Dog, the opening shot of a dog’s head, open mouthed and panting, is superimposed by the censor’s number as having been approved. It is important to know that the American Censor forbade any reference whatsoever, good or bad, to the Allied Occupation of Japan. I have written about its particular relevance to the film in an article published in The Final Cut – the Yearbook of the European Film College in 2005. You can read it here.
A while ago Dominic invited me to introduce Kurosawa’s ‘The Bad Sleep Well‘, another Gendai Geki film, as part of Passport to Cinema – the NFTS joint programme with the National Fim Theatre. (The story has references to Hamlet, played by Toshiro Mifune, and centres on corporate corruption.)
I’d also like to thank Lee Evans for his video and stills photographic services at the event.
Dominic Power, the Head of Screen Arts at the world- leading National Film and Television School (NFTS) has asked Mamoun Hassan to introduce Stray Dog – directed by Akira Kurosawa – to NFTS students on Monday 17 June.
The Japanese police thriller is set in the gangster underworld of 1940’s Occupied Tokyo. It was the film that catapulted the dynamic Japanese actor Toshiro Mifune to world fame.
Kurosawa’s contemporary subjects (including Stray Dog, Ikiru and High and Low) have been shaded by his Samurai films although they stand comparison. Stray Dog influenced Dirty Harry in which Clint Eastwood’s character also has his gun stolen and used for murder.
Mamoun has previously introduced Kurosawa’s Throne of Blood at British Film Institute (BFI), and led his Movie Masterclass on The Seven Samurai at films schools around the world.
View the movie details online at the BFI Shop.
Film maker and educator Mamoun Hassan recently had to postpone his live Movie Masterclass on composer Fumio Hayazaka: instead the invited audience of students at the European Film College in Denmark requested more time to work with him one to one on their final pieces!
Mamoun nevertheless intends to explore the subject in depth with a Masterclass audience at some point in the future. This will be the first Masterclass dedicated to a film score.
Mamoun is providing editing consultancy to the graduating students at the European Film College, Ebeltoft, Denmark, from April 18 – 23. The students present final projects at the end of the 8 ½ month course.
He is also doing a masterclass on Carol Reed‘s Third Man on the 19th, and another masterclass on composer Fumio Hayazaka, one of Cinema’s most original and influential figures and close collaborator with Akira Kurosawa. This is the first masterclass that focusses on a composer – a new direction for masterclasses.
“There is an intensity in this film that does not let go from beginning to end. ” Mamoun Hassan on Throne of Blood , March 19 2012
Mamoun was recently invited to introduce a screening of Akira Kurosawa’s 1957 masterpiece ‘Throne of Blood’ at the National Film Theatre, London.
The film is an interpretation of Shakespeare’s Macbeth in the warrior tradition of Japanese myth.
This is Mamoun’s introduction
“Shakespeare is a problem for film makers. He has fantastic and vivid stories and creates characters whose actions and words embody truth like no other writer’s before or since.
The problem is that, just as Mozart was accused of writing too many notes, Shakespeare writes too many words. As Hitchcock said: Cinema is not about a camera looking at actors speaking. But there is also a more fundamental dilemma: Shakespeare’s words are continually painting pictures. There is a constant stream of images, similes and metaphors.
Few directors have found a way of juggling his word pictures and the screen images. Kurosawa is one who has. He abandons Shakespeare’s words entirely but retains Shakespeare’s images in his own way. What we get is both Shakespeare’s poetry and Kurosawa’s poetry.”
National Film Theatre 19 March 2012
As part of the National Film & Television School’s Screen Arts presentation, in collaboration with the National Film Theatre, Mamoun introduces Kurosawa’s Throne of Blood, touching on Shakespeare on film.
A direct link will be posted when it is live on their website.