An extremely enjoyable autobiography from the man himself, Akira Kurosawa. It almost felt like reading fiction with the fantastic prose and wonderful stories that Kurosawa provides. And Kurosawa in himself is such a likable and interesting character. It does deal with Kurosawa's filmmaking techniques, but more than anything it delves into Kurosawa as a person. Half of the book deals with Kurosawa before he even began making films. He wonderfully details his childhood from babyhood to near adult. Not only that but he captures the atmosphere of pre-war, war-time, and post-war Japan splendidly and will probably teach you a thing or two about Japanese culture while he's at it.
The second half of the book deals with his early films. To some misfortune he decided to only write up until his 1950 film Rashomon
(which is arguably just where his career began to get especially interesting). But as Kurosawa himself says at the end of the book "I think that to learn what became of me after Rashomon
the most reasonable procedure would be to look for me in the characters in the films I made after Rashomon
." So you see, Kurosawa, in this thing that resembles an autobiography, has sucked us into his mind-state and shown us where he comes from, and, with that, it is with less challenge that we can fill in the pieces of his later life through his films.
Though it is a very personal book (as an autobiography very well should be) and Kurosawa is extremely open and honest in it, it does, as I mentioned, deal with Kurosawa's more technical side as well. Plus there is a great appendix titled "Some Random Notes on Filmmaking" where Kurosawa shares some of his best tips and advice in the medium.
An absolute must for any one interested in Kurosawa. Reading this is the best way to not only better understand Kurosawa as a person and as a filmmaker, but, in turn, to also better understand his films. I can imagine this being highly enjoyable even to one who knows near nothing about the man and his work.