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Watch: The Geometry of Akira Kurosawa: A Video Essay

Watch: The Geometry of Akira Kurosawa: A Video Essay


It’s not always easy to determine why some parts of an artistic piece, be it a chapter in a novel, a verse in a song, or a scene in a film, work for you, and why others don’t. The reasons why these passages work might not be immediately clear to you–and when the reasons surface, they might not be the ones you were expecting. With his inimitable zing, seasoned video essayist Tony Zhou takes us on a stroll through a scene from a classic Akira Kurosawa film, The Bad Sleep Well, and it turns out that the reason the scene “works” is its geometry, the relationship between its rectangles and its triangles, which, as you watch the scene, becomes akin to a kind of visual language. The director may not be using that language to say anything terribly complex, or that you haven’t heard before, but the succinctness and the tightness of the visual statement being made propels you, much as you might be propelled through a plotless video essay. After his verbal diagramming of this scene, Zhou suggests that we could look at all of Kurosawa’s scenes, in all of his films, this way, as geometrical compositions moving from harmony into disharmony and back.

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