The Most Beautiful

Dir: Akira Kurosawa

DoP: Jôji Ohara

Year: 1944

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Things To Consider

  • The Most Beautiful is at its essence a propaganda film, made at a time when Japan looked as if it was going to loose the war. It can be difficult to assess a propaganda film on it’s own merits, and especially so to consider it as part of the body of work of one of cinemas giants. But if we scratch the surface we can see there is a lot to take from this film.
  • Kurosawa’s primary focus is as always on the characters themselves. By focusing on their personal experiences Kurosawa manages (mostly) to avoid the chest beating, over the top nationalism that we often associate with propaganda. Look at the images above, how often does Kurosawa use close ups to give us a sense of pathos with the girls working in the factory.
  • The film is also surprisingly spare in iconic imagery. Kurosawa is not unable to conjure such imagery, as we would see throughout his career merely uninterested. His focus is on realism, not on iconography. The factory he shot in was a real working factory, the shot set ups are simple and focus on the characters.
  • One of the things I’ve noticed during this Kurosawa marathon is how adept Kurosawa is at dealing with multiple characters in one frame. I think he learned a lot on this film, given the opportunity to work with a large ensemble of characters, dealing with crowd shots and dialogue, it is interesting to examine how this talent grows over his career.

Further Research

Purchase U.S.

Purchase U.K.


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