Akira Kurosawa (1910 – 1998) is one of the giants of 20th-century film. He directed thirty films, and wrote the screenplays for most of them. He won many awards for films such as Drunken Angel, Rashomon, Seven Samurai, Throne of Blood, The Hidden Fortress, Dersu Uzala, and Ran. These remarks are from a 1993 documentary film, My Life in Cinema, in which Kurosawa is interviewed by another legendary Japanese film director, Nagisa Oshima (1932 – 2013).
“If you genuinely want to make films,” I say, “then write screenplays. All you need to write a script is paper and pencil. It’s only through writing scripts that you learn specifics about the structure of film and what cinema is.” That’s what I tell them, but they still won’t write. They find writing too hard. And it is. Writing scripts is a hard job. Still . . . .
The most essential thing is to have the patience to write one word at a time until you reach the required length. Too many people lack that patience. . . .
I think young people today don’t know the trick of it. They start, and want to get to the end right away. When you go mountain climbing, the first thing you’re told is not to look at the peak but to keep your eyes on the ground as you climb. You just keep climbing patiently one step at a time. If you keep looking at the top, you’ll get frustrated. I think writing is similar. . . . But most people tend to give up halfway . . . . when the going gets tough, they just give up.
Also, young people today don’t read books. I don’t think any of them are widely read in Russian literature [Kurosawa loved the great 19th-century Russian writers, especially Dostoyevsky and Tolstoy]. It’s important that they at least do a certain amount of reading. Unless you have a rich reserve within, you can’t create anything. That’s why I often say that creating comes from memory. Memory is the source for your creation. You can’t create something out of nothing. Whether it’s from reading or from your own real-life experience, you can’t create unless you have something inside yourself. In that sense, it’s important to always read a variety of things. Current novels are fine, but I think people should read the classics too.