At 72, Akira Kurosawa was considered by many to be the world's greatest living film director. Yojimbo, Ikiru, Seven Samurai, Kagemusha--such motion pictures as these, and nearly two dozen more, had created an extraordinary reputation. Many books and monographs had described him and his work. Here, he tells his own story. It covers, in often intimate detail, the forty years from his birth in a now-vanished Tokyo to the release of the film that made him (and Japanese cinema) famous, the magnificent Rashōmon. Here is Kurosawa as a little boy, swaggering through the streets with his wooden kendō sword, dreaming of medieval heroes; on a horrifying walk with his brother through the ruins of earthquake-wrecked Tokyo ("This must be the end of the world," he remembers thinking); going to the movies (everything from William S. Hart to Ernst Lubitsch); joining the Proletarian Artists' League and going dangerously underground as a party courier; living in a Tokyo slum and becoming fascinated by the old popular culture of story-tellers and neighborhood theaters; answering a newspaper ad and getting into movies, almost by accident, at the old P.C.L. studios ("really the kind of place it would be correct to call a dream factory"); writing scripts (the one for his first film, Sugata Sanshirō, he produced at a single sitting); learning lighting and camerawork; battling the censors as Japan slid into war ("we were all like deaf-mutes" ); discovering and working with actor Toshirō Mifune; scripting and making Rashōmon. It's a wonderful story, and Kurosawa tells it wonderfully well. Introspective, personal, to a degree eccentric and opinionated, this book is a remarkable combination of personal reminiscence, cultural history, and hard-headed, witty commentary on what it was like to make movies in Japan. It will fascinate anyone interested in Japan, in film, in the springs of creativity and genius.--Adapted from dust jacket.