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Michigan Theater asks cinephiles to 'Enter the Samurai' Monday nights through April

Misa Uehara, Toshiro Mifune and Minoru Chiaki in Akira Kurosawa's "The Hidden Fortress" (Credit: Michigan Theater)
Misa Uehara, Toshiro Mifune and Minoru Chiaki in Akira Kurosawa's "The Hidden Fortress" (Credit: Michigan Theater)

ANN ARBOR – Beginning Monday night, film lovers will be able to follow the career of acclaimed Japanese film director Akira Kurosawa as the Michigan Theater Foundation presents "Enter the Samurai," a new film series that focuses on Kurosawa’s journey with the samurai as a reflection on his own growth as a filmmaker. These wonderful films will screen every Monday at 7 p.m. at the Michigan Theater in an effort to highlight Kurosawa's many talents, not the least of which was pushing the limits of modern filmmaking. 

“Anyone that is a fan of the American Western but is not familiar with the work of Kurosawa needs to spend their Monday nights February through April with us at the theater," Brian Hunter, the Michigan Theater's film curator, said. "Your appreciation for action sequences and epic tales will expand after this series.” Hunter went on to say that the goal of the series is to illuminate Kurosawa's ability to dance with experimental tactics, which elevated the traditional genre.

While we would strongly suggest seeing all or as many of these films as you can, our No. 1 pick would easily be "The Hidden Fortress," Kurosawa's 1958 masterpiece that George Lucas used (stole) as inspiration for "Star Wars." 

We know we're likely to alienate some fans with the following statement, but the original "Star Wars," while a marker for major technological advancements in film effects, is frankly not that good. The filmmaking is lazy, the acting is terrible and Lucas himself seems bored by every aspect of what's displayed on screen. When you watch "The Hidden Fortress," however, it illustrates everything that "Star Wars" should have been. The craft on display is pristine, the cinematography is gorgeous and the story is a fun, action adventure with characters so richly developed, you'll find yourself cheering when the credits roll because you've had such a joyous experience. Sold yet? 

The "Enter the Samurai" film series will be shown in the Michigan Theater screening room. The full lineup is as follows: 

  • "The Men Who Tread On The Tiger’s Tail" (1945) - Monday, Feb. 5 at 7 p.m.
  • "Rashomon" (1950) - Monday, Feb. 12 at 7 p.m.
  • "The Seven Samurai" (1954) - Monday, Feb. 19 at 7 p.m.
  • "Throne Of Blood" (1957) - Monday, Feb. 26 at 7 p.m.
  • "The Hidden Fortress" (1958) - Monday, March 5 at 7 p.m.
  • "Yojimbo" (1961) - Monday, March 12 at 7 p.m.
  • "Sanjuro" (1962) - Monday, March 19 at 7 p.m.
  • "Red Beard" (1965) - Monday, March 26 at 7 p.m.
  • "Kagemusha" (1980) - Monday, April 2 at 7 p.m.
  • "Ran" (1985) - Monday, April 9 at 7 p.m.
  • "The 47 Ronin" Parts 1 & 2 (Note: directed By Kenji Mizoguchi, 1941 and 1942) - Monday, April 16 at 7 p.m.

To learn more about each film in the "Enter the Samurai" series, visit michtheater.org/samurai

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