Akira Kurosawa was born in Tokyo, Japan on March 23, 1910, the youngest of seven children. He stated that the most important influence on his career was a teacher named Tachikawa that eagerly taught art. At a young age, he showed that he was a very talented painter and joined a group of artists.
Early in his career, Akira wanted to become a commercial artist and studied at the Tokyo Academy of Fine Arts. However, he soon abandoned this pursuit to become a film director, starting out as an assistant director at Toho Film Studios in 1936.
In 1943, Akira directed his first feature film, entitled Sanshiro Sugata. He first received international recognition in 1950 for his film Rashomon, which was set in Japan's medieval age and centered upon the relativity of truth. His film earned the top prize at the Venice Film Festival the following year, greatly helping to revive Japan's movie industry, which had slumped after World War 2. The success of that film also encouraged American theaters to play dubbed Japanese films.
His most famous work, The Seven Samurai, was created in 1956 and went on to become a huge success. Set in the medieval Japanese times, the film focused on a village that hired seven samurai to train its villagers to fight against plundering bandit armies. Today, the film is listed among the best films ever produced.
Other films used contemporary settings, such as 1952's Ikiru and 1965's Red Beard. However, his historical films proved to be the most successful at the box office and defined the samurai film genre. His films were noted for their well-choreographed action sequences and emphasis on honor and bravery. Other genres, including westerns, began to develop imitations of his most famous films, including 1960's The Magnificent Seven and 1967's A Fistful of Dollars.
In the 1960, Akira's film career began to slow, but he regained his position with the production of Uzala in 1975, which was a partnership with Russian filmmakers. The film won an academy award for best foreign film and allowed Akira to get financial support for his next projects: Kagemusha in 1980 and Ran in 1985. The first received the academy award for best film and the second was nominated in several categories.
In 1989, Akira was given a lifetime achievement award at the Oscar's ceremony. He died on September 6, 1998 at the age of 88. He is remembered as one of the greatest film directors of all time.