“Mifune was like the ocean. The ocean is boundless, but also turbulent.”
He is one of my favorite actors, alongside Robert De Niro, and Daniel Day Lewis.
He is one of the reasons Akira Kurosawa’s visions came alive. The two men, challenging against authority was again and again captured on films like Seven Samurai, Yojimbo, Rashomon, and others. Together they made 16 films. Even to this day, after 67 years since the release Rashomon, he is the iconic face of a Japanese Samurai. His name is Toshiro Mifune.
Watching this documentary increased my respect for him by tenfold. I did not know that he fought as a soldier during World War 2. Due to his harsh voice and arrogant demeanor, his military supervisors often beat him. But it was this voice that made him stand out from all contemporary actors, possibly in the whole world of actors during his time. As his son narrated, when Japan was losing, Toshiro Mifune was a sergeant in charge of training young boys, many of whom had not even hit puberty for suicidal missions. He hated the job but he followed his instructions. And on the day they left, he told them, “You don’t have to say “I’m doing this for the Emperor!” Just say goodbye to your mother.” He would cry when he told these stories to his children.
For those who are familiar with his work, this documentary is going to be an absolute delight. What a man he was. He was extremely disciplined and ready to shape shift at will. If you haven’t, watch any one of these three: Seven Samurai (it’s longer than 3 hours), Yojimbo (comedy) or Rashomon (mindf%^k). And the best case scenario: watch all three. You will realize why Mifune was known as one of the greatest actors of all time. And they are not as boring as you think, particularly Yojimbo.
According to one of his costars, “He was like the ocean. The ocean is boundless, but also turbulent.” But Mifune was not a complete saint. His heavy drinking and fascination for speedy cars and a game of black jack bring him down to a human level. Yet that doesn’t mean he was extravagant. In his own production house, he was often seen mopping the floor, setting up lights, and doing other chores.
I am inspired beyond means, yet again by you. Thank you for your work, Mr. Toshiro Mifune. Till this day I remember the day I searched your name on Wikipedia using opera mini on my Nokia 6233 phone, expecting you to still be alive so that one day I can meet you and shake your hand. On that day I almost cried when I saw that you passed away in 1997. There was a genuine sadness that lasted for quite some time. May you rest in peace.