Toshiro Mifune, the actor who formed an illustrious partnership with Akira Kurosawa, brought charisma, ironic self-knowledge and intense physicality to no fewer than 150 film roles. “I’m not always great in pictures,” he said, “but I’m always true to the Japanese spirit.”
Toshiro Mifune in a scene from the film Grand Prix, 1966. (Photo by Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer/Getty Images)

The best actors disappear into their roles; the most transcendent come to embody the archetypes they portray. Thus, John Wayne became inseparable from the image of the granite-jawed, bow-legged, morally righteous cowboy, and Joe Pesci’s bug eyes and tightly wound demeanour inevitably come to mind whenever the spectre of a homicidal mobster is summoned. And the down-on-his-luck samurai, equal parts arrogant and bemused, who wanders into a lawless village and sets matters right? Look no further than Toshiro Mifune.


    Stuart Husband


    January 2022


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