Today marks the 80th birthday of the legendary Japanese actor Tatsuya Nakadai, who was most famously known as the leading man of Akira Kurosawa’s late films like Ran and Kagemusha. Unlike another well-known Japanese actor Toshiro Mifune, who was criticized as “only being able to act Samurai well”, Nakadai has a wider range in his performances. Very similar to Marcello Mastroianni in Italy and Robert De Niro in America, Nakadai had the chance to collaborate with some of the finest director in Japanese cinema history,including Akira Kurosawa, Mikio Naruse, Takeru Kobayashi, Kihachi Okamoto and Hiroshi Tashigahara.
In case you are not very familiar with Tatsuya Nakadai’s films,here are some recommendations:
Yojimbo, Akira Kurosawa
A film that doesn’t need too many introductions, one of the best samurai films ever made, Tatsuya Nakadai acts the rival of the Toshiro Mifune character, man with a gun beaten by a man with a sword.
Sanjuro, Akira Kurosawa
The sequel of Yojimbo is as entertaining as the original,you can’t separate them, the best way is to watch them as a double feature.
Kwaidan, Takeru Kobayashi
One of the most artful ghost picture and horror movies in cinema history, Tatsuya Nakadai only acts in a fragment of the four, in which the woodcutter he played meets an icy spirit in the form of a woman.
Harakiri, Takeru Kobayashi
Probably the best samurai film alongside Kurosawa’s Seven Samurai, Tatsuya Nakadai plays a samurai who fights again the corrupted system.
The Human Condition, Takeru Kobayashi
A three-part nine-and-a-half-hour epic film about a man(Tatsuya Nakadai) ‘s rise in a Manchurian prison camp during WWII. If you can stand the duration of the film, it would be a journey you never had before.
The Sword of Doom, Kihachi Okamoto
A Samurai film that is more about a swordsman’s mind rather than his skills, it would be interesting to see Tatsuya Nakadai vs Toshiro Mifune again on the big screen.
High and Low, Akira Kurosawa
A intense thriller from Kurosawa, Tatsuya Nakadai acts a detective who helps a businessman (Toshiro Mifune again) to track down his ransom and the kidnapper.
The Face of Another, Hiroshi Tashigahara
The final film of Japanese New Wave director Hiroshi Tashigahara’s existentialism trilogy, Tatsuya Nakadai plays a man is willing to change his persona after his original one is destroyed, the experiment only leads him to be further alienated from the society.
Ran, Akira Kurosawa
Kurosawa’s famous film adaptation from Shakespeare’s King Lear, an epic color film at its best, Tatsuya Nakadai’s role as the ” Japanese King Lear” is the most impressive on in his career.
Kagemusha, Akira Kurosawa
In another Kurosawa war epic which won the Palme d’Or that year, Tatsuya Nakadai played both the warload and his “shadow”. If you like films that has a actor plays multiple roles, read this post.
It’s Your Turn
Which Tatsuya Nakadai films have you seen? How do you like his performances in those films?