Wednesday 26 November 2014

Akira Kurosawa writes a letter to Ingmar Bergman

"A human is not really capable of creating really good works until he reaches eighty."
Akira Kurosawa

Swedish director Ernst Ingmar Bergman (1918-2007) retired after three Academy Awards, six Golden Globes, seven Cannes prizes, two BAFTAs, the Irving G. Thalberg Memorial Award, and many more honours. Once he said: "I probably do mourn the fact that I no longer make films."
In 1988, he received a letter (via) from Akira Kurosawa (1910-1998),  "Asian of the Century" and "the" filmmaker admired by Bergman, Fellini, Polanski, Bertolucci, Altman, Scorsese ... just to mention a few. Kurosawa was said to have expressed his engagement with ageing and spiritual search through the medium of film and that as he aged he, "appear(ed) to become more spiritualised, expressing transcendence, resignation and/or holy rage" (Geist quoted by Jones, 2002).

Dear Mr. Bergman,  
Please let me congratulate you upon your seventieth birthday.  
Your work deeply touches my heart every time I see it and I have learned a lot from your works and have been encouraged by them. I would like you to stay in good health to create more wonderful movies for us.  
In Japan, there was a great artist called Tessai Tomioka who lived in the Meiji Era (the late 19th century). This artist painted many excellent pictures while he was still young, and when he reached the age of eighty, he suddenly started painting pictures which were much superior to the previous ones, as if he were in magnificent bloom. Every time I see his paintings, I fully realize that a human is not really capable of creating really good works until he reaches eighty.  
A human is born a baby, becomes a boy, goes through youth, the prime of life and finally returns to being a baby before he closes his life. This is, in my opinion, the most ideal way of life.  
I believe you would agree that a human becomes capable of producing pure works, without any restrictions, in the days of his second babyhood.  
I am now seventy-seven (77) years old and am convinced that my real work is just beginning.  
Let us hold out together for the sake of movies.  
With the warmest regards,  
Akira Kurosawa

- Jones, K. (2002) The Spiritual Dimension: a gerotranscendental take on Akira Kurosawa's film, "Ran", via
- photographs of Ingmar Bergman and Akira Kurosawa via and via and via and via


  1. Wonderful, Laura.

  2. Mervyn Rothstein wrote about Bergman that he was the foremost chronicler of our buried guilt, hate and neuroses. So true.

    1. Bergman's work is brutally honest, in a very positive way. Thank you for sharing Rothstein's wonderful description of him.