The Criterion Collection

Before there were creepy girls living in wells and scaring the piss out of Naomi Watts, Asian cinema was owned by master director Akira Kurosawa. In his later years, Kurosawa struggled with depression and exile, holed up in a home somewhere drawing pictures for a film that studios refused to finance. Enter George Lucas and Francis Ford Coppola, who helped bring Kurosawa out of exile for a return to greatness with Kagemusha. When a Japanese warlord (Tatsuya Nakadai) is mortally wounded, he and his counsel pick a double (also Nakadai) to assume his identity and hide his death from enemies. The initially reluctant double goes on to relish the role, befriending the man’s grandson and basically forgetting his own identity. The results of his obsession with the leader are heartbreaking, perhaps the saddest story Kurosawa ever put to screen. One of the final epics from a great director.