Kurosawa: The Last Emperor
Producer Tod Davies in person • Muenzinger Auditorium
A note from producer Tod Davies:
The IFS is screening a documentary that I produced in 1999 for the UK’s Channel 4—Kurosawa: The Last Emperor. This is a hero-director studded hour (Francis Ford Coppola, Bernardo Bertolucci, John Woo, among others), with a lot of homage being paid to the great man, Akira Kurosawa. After that, the IFS will also screen extracts from a documentary I produced in 2000 for the same channel—Emmanuelle: A Hard Look. This is, of course, a look at the famous soft core porn movies, with interviews of participants such as actors Sylvia Kristel and Laura Gemser.
The dating of the two documentaries is no coincidence. The first is pure 20th century: a celebration of a male hero, of an individual genius. The second struggles with themes that are already of the 21st in investigating why ‘bad’ films about violence—for example, spaghetti westerns—are treated seriously, while ‘bad’ films about sex—soft core porn, like the Emmanuelle films—are mocked as trash.
So that’s what I want to talk about. The difference in the subjects of the two documentaries. The difference between the reverence with which the first subject is treated, and the snark that is aimed at the second. The ‘whys’ of that. We might argue that Kurosawa made ‘good’ films, and the actors in the Emmanuelle series made ‘bad’ ones. But how are we defining that? What assumptions are we making? And why? What stories are we telling ourselves as we watch these films? —Tod Davies
Tod Davies has been an author, screenwriter, indie film producer, radio host, and publisher. She wrote and produced the films Three Businessmen and Revengers Tragedy, co-wrote Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas, and produced two documentaries for the UK's Channel 4, Kurosawa: The Last Emperor, and Emmanuelle: A Hard Look. She has taught writing and producing at many venues over the years, and now helms indie Exterminating Angel Press publishing books that question dominant cultural stories in entertaining and accessible ways, including Mike Madrid's The Supergirls: Fashion, Feminism, Fantasy, and the History of Comic Book Heroines, and her own The History of Arcadia series, including the most recent, fourth in the series, Report to Megalopolis or The Post-modern Prometheus. Her main interest, through all her activities in all these different media, is in how stories build culture--and how they can be used to change that culture for the better. If anything can do it, story can.
Kurosawa: The Last Emperor
Mon August 27, 7:30 PM; Mon August 27, 7:30 PM, Muenzinger Auditorium
UK, 1999, in English, Color, 50 min
Director: Alex Cox, Cast: Bernardo Bertolucci, Francis Ford Coppola, Mike Hodges, Andrei Konchalovsky, John Woo