MIFUNE: THE LAST SAMURAI
Steven Okazaki's thoughtful, elegant portrait of Japanese cinema's greatest actor is less a straightforward documentary than a creative examination of the formative elements — both personal and cultural — surrounding Toshiro Mifune that contributed to his rise in stardom. The popularity of Chanbara films (samurai sword-fighting films that functioned as Japanese cinema's Westerns), Mifune's harrowing experiences in World War II, his circuitous entry into moviemaking and his brilliant collaboration with Akira Kurosawa all led to the creation of Mifune the icon. With rare archival photos of Mifune on set and in his personal life, seminal clips from some of his greatest films — RASHOMON (1950), SEVEN SAMURAI (1954), THRONE OF BLOOD (1957) and YOJIMBO (1961) among them — and an impressive array of interviewees including Martin Scorsese, Steven Spielberg, actors Kyôko Kagawa and Yoshio Tsuchiya and narrator Keanu Reeves, MIFUNE: THE LAST SAMURAI is a cinephile's dream. — Beth Hanna
Steven Okazaki won the Academy Award® for Best Documentary (Short Subject) for his 1990 film DAYS OF WAITING: THE LIFE & ART OF ESTELLE ISHIGO. He has been nominated for an additional three Oscars®, for the films UNFINISHED BUSINESS (1986), THE MUSHROOM CLUB (2005) and THE CONSCIENCE OF NHEM EN (2008). He is also the recipient of a Peabody Award.