Revisiting a master

It was in my last year of primary school that I became obsessed with Japan

This was informed by an interest in samurai and ninjas but probably laid the groundwork for my haiku writing earlier this century to present day.

Aside from exploring martial arts, reading James Clavell's book Shogun and learning to love eating rice, one of the highlights was watching movies by Akira Kurosawa.

My mother saw the ANU film group were screening his work and kindly drove me to see The Seven Samurai.

I sat next to a couple who seemed to be at the film solely to kiss each other but hardly noticed.

In hindsight I can appreciate the skill of his filmmaking, it held the attention of a boy raised on television cartoons for around three hours of black and white storytelling.

The fight scene at the end is still epic.

However, I've also come to appreciate the influence Kurosawa had on other films.

George Lucas has spoken of the C3PO and R2D2 characters being inspired by two peasants in The Hidden Fortress, and the video below shows other influences from that film.

And when I realised the Italian westerns my father liked were remakes of Kurosawa, I became more interested in them.

This week I tried to interest my kids in watching Yojimbo, priming them with the Youtube videos that make Jedi of Kurosawa's ronin.

They didn't watch much of it but I got a new appreciation for the film.

First, the soundtrack is awesome. I've had the track covered below in my head for days.

Second, the scene with the dog holding a human hand is clearing referenced in my favourite movie of all time: Wild At Heart.

And, finally, my interest in film studies has been stirred by the observation that the formerly fascist countries of Italy and Japan both began making westerns in the decades after World War II.

What does it say about the countries that these films focus on a stranger coming into a lawless town and setting things straight with violence?

Searching for Cod

I've been a bit obsessed with Murray Cod since being part of the 'Fragments' exhibition

Hape Kiddle, curator, gave me a fragment of River Red Gum from a Murray Cod statue he's creating.

His statue will be 2.2 metres, which is apparently the largest Murray Cod on record.

To the right is one of the Murray Cod studies he exhibited with the other fragments.

Below is a video I recorded at Ulupna Island earlier this year, which might be a Murray Cod.