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Rashomon / one sheet / 2009 re-release / USA

22.05.13

Poster Poster
Title
Rashomon
AKA
Rashômon (Japan - original title)
Year of Film
1950
Director
Akira Kurosawa
Starring
Toshirô Mifune, Machiko Kyô, Masayuki Mori, Takashi Shimura, Minoru Chiaki, Kichijirô Ueda, Noriko Honma, Daisuke Katô
Origin of Film
Japan
Genre(s) of Film
Toshirô Mifune, Machiko Kyô, Masayuki Mori, Takashi Shimura, Minoru Chiaki, Kichijirô Ueda, Noriko Honma, Daisuke Katô,
Type of Poster
One sheet
Style of Poster
Re-release
Origin of Poster
USA
Year of Poster
2009
Designer
Unknown
Artist
Kent Williams
Size (inches)
27" x 40"
SS or DS
SS
NSS #
--
Tagline
--

Legendary Japanese director Akira Kurosawa‘s 1950 masterpiece Rashomon is considered by many to be his crowning achievement, which is no mean feat when you consider it’s stacked against films as beloved as Seven Samurai (1954) and Yojimbo (1961). Considered incredibly influential and ground-breaking, particularly in terms of storytelling, cinematography and editing, the film has lost none of its impact in the 60+ years since its first release. The film is essentially an investigation into the truth behind a heinous crime in which a woman is raped and her samurai husband is slain at the end of a dagger, but it’s the way that Kurosawa stages the recollections of the four key eyewitnesses that makes Rashomon so special.

The film begins as three strangers shelter under the ruins of the eponymous gate during a calamitous thunderstorm. Two of the men, a woodcutter and a priest, were witnesses to events that happened in a nearby forrest three days earlier and they begin to recount what they saw to the commoner who’s eager to hear the details of the crime. Each of the recollections feature the husband and wife and a bandit named Tajômaru (Toshirô Mifune) but each of the witnesses recall the events that led to the death of the samurai in very different ways.

Kurosawa uses a number of editing techniques to differentiate the recollections for the viewer and apparently shot the same scene with several different cameras so he could cut to another angle of the same performances as he saw fit. Mifune, a frequent collaborator, deserves special mention for his memorable portrayal of the bandit Tajomaru in each of his different ‘guises’. In the end, the viewer is left to decide which of the witnesses they believe with the director resisting the urge to wrap things up neatly. As the commoner remarks when discussing the validity of one of the recollections: ‘We all want to forget something, so we tell stories. It’s easier that way.’

American artist Kent Williams painted this stunning portrait of Tajomaru that was commissioned by Janus Films for the 2009 cinema re-release of Rashomon. The release followed an extensive 2008 restoration undertaken by the Academy Archive, the National Film Center of the National Museum of Modern Art, Tokyo, and Kadokawa Pictures. Born in 1962, Williams has lent his considerable talents to a wide range of artistic channels, including printmaking, photography, architecture and film. He is perhaps best known for his work on graphic novels for the likes of Marvel and Vertigo and in 2006 he collaborated with filmmaker Darren Aronofsky on a comic book tie-in for the sci-fi fantasy film The Fountain. His official website contains galleries of his work, as well as a biography, links to blogs and more.

Kent’s 2009 blog post announcing the completion of this piece can be viewed here and confirms that the original artwork was realised with oil and encaustic on linen mounted on wood panel with a distressed wooden beam. This same image was used for the must-own 2012 Criterion re-release of Rashomon and the poster was available to purchase via their web shop for a number of months, which is where I picked it up from. It sadly appears to be no longer available for purchase.

Seven Samurai / B1 / 1991 re-release / Japan

17.05.11

Poster Poster

Seven Samurai / one sheet / 1982 re-release / USA

17.05.11

Poster Poster

Big Man Japan / one sheet / Japan

17.05.11

Poster Poster
Title
Big Man Japan
AKA
Dai-Nihonjin (Japan - original title)
Year of Film
2007
Director
Hitoshi Matsumoto
Starring
Hitoshi Matsumoto, Riki Takeuchi, Ua, Ryûnosuke Kamiki, Haruka Unabara,Tomoji Hasegawa, Itsuji Itao, Hiroyuki Miyasako, Takayuki Haranishi, Daisuke Miyagawa
Origin of Film
Japan
Genre(s) of Film
Hitoshi Matsumoto, Riki Takeuchi, Ua, Ryûnosuke Kamiki, Haruka Unabara,Tomoji Hasegawa, Itsuji Itao, Hiroyuki Miyasako, Takayuki Haranishi, Daisuke Miyagawa,
Type of Poster
One sheet
Style of Poster
--
Origin of Poster
USA
Year of Poster
2008
Designer
Unknown
Artist
--
Size (inches)
27" x 39 10/16"
SS or DS
DS
NSS #
--
Tagline
--

Hidden Fortress: The Last Princess / B1 / Japan

28.09.15

Poster Poster
Title
Hidden Fortress: The Last Princess
AKA
Kakushi toride no san akunin (Japan - original title)
Year of Film
2008
Director
Shinji Higuchi
Starring
Jun Matsumoto, Daisuke Miyagawa, Kippei Shîna, Masami Nagasawa, Hiroshi Abe
Origin of Film
Japan
Genre(s) of Film
Jun Matsumoto, Daisuke Miyagawa, Kippei Shîna, Masami Nagasawa, Hiroshi Abe,
Type of Poster
B1
Style of Poster
--
Origin of Poster
Japan
Year of Poster
2008
Designer
Unknown
Artist
Takehiko Inoue
Size (inches)
28 11/16" x 40 9/16"
SS or DS
DS
Tagline
--

Hidden Fortress: The Last Princess is director Shinji Higuchi‘s take on Akira Kurosawa’s 1958 original classic The Hidden Fortress. By all accounts Higuchi ups the pace and gore levels significantly. The plot is described thusly:

Makabe Rokurota (Hiroshi Abe), the loyal retainer of Princess Yuki-hime of Akizuki (Masami Nagasawa), is moving the Princess and the prefecture’s ample treasury of gold bars safely to the politically stable Hayakawa area. They disguise themselves as humble firewood peddlers, hiding the gold bars inside the logs they are carrying, so as to pass safely through roadblocks, which are under the control of the local warlord. Along the way, Rokurota comes across Takezo (Jun Matsumoto) and Shimpachi (Daisuke Miyagawa), who have escaped from forced labour in a gold mine. They eventually agree to help out on this foolhardy mission in the hope of escaping Yamana’s oppression and cashing in on the gold reward Rokurota offers them.

The Takezo and Shimpachi characters (called Tahei and Matashichi in the original) were famously to serve as inspiration for George Lucas when he created Star Wars’ R2D2 and C3P0. The three reviews for this film that are on IMDb don’t exactly paint the film in a great light:

‘The two peasants are given more screen time and fleshed out more, but not to any productive effect. In the original they were the model for R2D2 and C3PO. In the updated version, they become Jar Jar Binks with sappy emotions.’

This poster has artwork that is credited to Takehiko Inoue who is a Japanese artist that was born in 1967 in Okuchi, Kagoshima and is best known for his work on manga, with two titles in particular, Slam Dunk and samurai tale Vagabond, that are popular across the globe. His Wikipedia page details a history of his work and also notes that he’s a huge fan of basketball and is a published sports writer. Inoue has also done design work for video games, including Lost Odyssey on the Xbox 360. I can’t find any record of any other film poster work but I can only assume he has done some.

Seven Samurai / quad / Academy Cinema / 1975 re-release / UK

18.05.11

Poster Poster

This poster was created by Peter Strausfeld who worked as the poster designer for the (now defunct) Academy Cinema One on Oxford Street, London. He created hundreds of posters during his career and was working on them up until his death in 1980. Peter was one of the few remaining poster designers to use the wood and linocut methods of printing, which meant all of his designs were unique and were created especially for the Academy One screening of the film. His posters are much loved by film fans and poster collectors for their striking, bold look.

Some more information on Peter here:

University of Brighton – faculty of arts (Peter was also a teacher at two Brighton colleges)

A BBC article

I’ve been able to identify the year of this poster as 1975 with thanks to Steve Moore, a friend and fellow collector, and a man called Pete Lawley who is currently (as of June 2018) writing a book about the Academy Cinema. Steve reached out to Pete and asked for help confirming the year and the author has identified several instances of the film being released at the cinemas, as follows:

18th February – 28th April 1955 – Pete has not seen a poster for this first UK release but assumes that the same, or similar artwork, was used.

13th May – 22nd December 1971 – This re-release was shown in Academy Three (effectively the third screen of the cinema) and no posters were apparently produced for this screen.

20th December 1973 – 20th February 1974 – This was shown in Academy Two and has the same artwork as this poster but has the text ‘First British Screen Presentation’ in place of the ‘For three weeks only…’ text, which is in relation to it being ‘The Complete Version’.

3rd July – 23rd July 1975 – Academy One – this poster.

31st January – 3rd March 1976 – Academy Two – Pete is unsure what poster was used for this but thinks it unlikely that they created another variant for it. More likely a snipe was used or they reused the one from 1974.