Loading color scheme

Akira Kurosawa[1] : my practicable life.

Screenshot from ‘Kagemusha, the warrior shadow’, directed by Akira Kurosawa (1980, and winner of the ‘Palme d’Or’ at the Cannes Film Festival 1980).



I follow Akira Kurosawa in his patient unraveling the garbled knots of the life. A silent child, who preferred to draw, when unexpectedly he came to carry away his teacher who noticed him and even better suggested his own work to the class : an episode that opened to the youngest Akira the power of the novel to face the towering walls of conscience.

A family photograph portrays him at his earliest childhood, side by side with his elder brother Heigo who made Akira passionate about painting, first of all Van Gogh, and to the first black-and-white movies. However, unlike Heigo who drew from movies a melencholic distance, Akira when coming back home began to produce on his own, catching the same scenes in his drawing and the tales that passioned him. In that photograph, Heigo and Akira preceed their youngest and sad mother, as if they run for heroic Samurai. The unexpressive and severe father appeared checking the whole scene from the centre, and all around their brothers, sisters, some uncles and aunts.

Kurosawa is a noble family of Samurai, hard to tell something about...

Nonetheless Akira tried to do that, while taking serious the random offer of the drawing which always preceeds painting. And that Akira soonest substituted with the new screenplays as required by the rising movie industry. Were so Akira and Heigo partners before than being competitors in offering protection to their own woman and mother... ??

Who knows if begun as a possible heroic mission of an applicant Samurai of the movie the same profession of Akira... But, when Heigo[2] abandoned him, Akira himself stopped to be an hero.

By that prudency which since his first childhood defensed him from a too pressing and unavoidable familiar education, Akira silently cultivated his method, made of passioned humble strict application. Without leaving the screenplays which until the very end he cared firsthand, by then he unequivocally faced the direction.

He was leaving comments and struggle to others, about those meanings and inventions that Akira shared most of all with Alfred Hitchcock and with the best Fellini, and instead he preferred working hard to offer to his audience a thought able to describe solutions captured even in his night dreams, when the day of a man is heavy and forced in social traditions. The dream-like in the Kurosawa movies is never illusion then, but cultured memory to catch from childhood.

Akira soonest started with “A wonderful Sunday” of 1947, two years after the World War defeat, joking without spite about the impossible ‘daily’ dreams, burdened of unsustainable pretences. And he sketched out the pathological fear of failure of a young man, worn out by the sacrificial japanese ethics, who’ll find himself unable to build his own life together with the woman he loves. To the point of refusing some useful money to invest in, offered by a friend recently enriched.

With “Rashomon” (1950), Kurosawa undeterred proceeded sustaining ‘whom’ he recognized, time by time, capable of not deadly solutions. Also when that didn’t coincide with the claims of his own Nation, not appreciating maybe his appearing at the cinema in U.S.A., ancient and unforgetted enemy. In the movie Akira sides with the Samurai’s wife : the Samurai derided her because she succumbed to the bandid instead of sacrificing her own life and she now gets to stab her husband to death.

Then Kurosawa raises the bar with “Dodès'ka-dèn” (1970), where he dared to represent the ‘autism’ as a common pathology of desperation which, just to keep one’s own life, make anyone “blissful” in the illusion of a neverending dream. The young unemployed man who hires himself as an imaginary tram driver, and his most religious mother can continue to console him and herself repeating that the life ‘is ok’ when everything ‘is not okay’ : the young man gets even to obstinately reproach a careless pedestrian who ‘didn’t see’ the imaginary single track on which the young man was walking. The movie wasn’t applauded at all, neither in Japan where the government effort was all about building again the rubble after the war defeat. At Tokyo however the initial progress was flaunted in luxury neighborhoods, keeping difficulties and psychich diseases well hidden in the muddy alleys, where everything could be quickly removed. In front of the clear failure, Akira seemed tempted by the sacrificial tradition of the Samurai which however found him ‘not yet ready’[3]. His suicide failed, and he saved himself.

Without any rethoric, and with a cinematographic language capable of tracing his own night dream and never falling into the infantile, Akira succeeded in telling, with photographic precision, the humiliation suffered from a child facing the maternal punishment due to his curiousity for the marital relationship[4]. Almost calculating his own audience availability for attention, Kurosawa is able to tell them about anguish as only Hitchcock could. The agile Akira introduces a lightness which can get to solutions and to unforeseeable redeeming, that simple and resolutive “marameo” that allowed him, maybe since he was a child, to slip out from sacrificing without any benefit.

To the point of smiling and playing with his own proverbial prudency which in his life helped him a number of times. It is so in “Rapsody of August” (1991), one of the last films of the by then eighty director where a child was playing at ‘hide-and-seek’, and when his fellows asked him : “Madakay ?” – i.e. “Are you ready ?” – he every time answered : “Madaday !” – i.e. : “Not yet, not, yet, not yet... !”, so that succeeding in saving his own life and himself from (the ghost of) the Samurai.


                                                                  Marina Bilotta Membretti / Cernusco sul Naviglio - August 8, 2016



[1]    I thank Carlo G.Cesaretti, cinematographic critic, and the civic ‘Biblioteca Lino Penati’ of Cernusco sul Naviglio for the cycle of meetings titled “Akira Kurosawa (Tokyo 1910-1998). I mille colori del vivere”, April-May 2016

[2]    Heigo will suicide at 28.

[3]    “Not yet” is the transalation of the movie title “Madadayo-The birthday” (1993), where to the birthday is assimilated the death which “doesn’t find ready” the leading character.

[4]    “Dreams” (1990) and specifically the epysode “The marriage of the foxes”.

You’ve been and still exist.[1]

Leonardo Da Vinci and the objection of Conscience.

Original painting by Stefano Frassetto (6).




Leonardo Da Vinci was painting the ‘Cenacolo’[2] in Milan, between 1494 and 1497, on commission of Ludovico il Moro, to the Court of whom he specifically came from Florence. Leonardo didn’t like painting religious themes and preferred, to the culture of the clergymen, the cruel and lashing one of his patron, who however did right ask Leonardo with the ‘Last Supper’ for the refectory of the convent of Santa Maria delle Grazie. So that Leonardo should ‘come into’ the person of a thinking Jesus. He chose the sorrowful acknowledgement without any condemnation : “One among you will betray me… The one who’s dipping into my own plate.” [3]

Leonardo did work enigmaticly : the apprentice Matteo Bandello reported about him that sometimes the Master was been working non-stop even for lunch, and sometimes instead he gave just a few brushstrokes and left, disappearing until the next day. Especially about the ‘Cenacolo’, Leonardo often covered again what he himself had already painted. Thanks to a restoration lasted twenty years and able to come back to the original painting, nowadays we can know how was thinking a man said a genius, but mainly treated by his own contemporaries as an odd kind of person and not to be approached.

Sigmund Freud published in 1910 ‘A childhood memory of Leonardo Da Vinci’, twelve years after his shortest but dedicated stay in Milan, in September 1898 and after publishing ‘The translation of dreams’ and the well done ‘Case of child Hans’. Also the essay about Leonardo Da Vinci was once more dedicated to know how a child is thinking to be conjugated, and the corruption of his thinking in the said ‘Oedipus complex’, as an inhibition and objection of Conscience to love.

During his visit in Milan, Freud didn’t find that fresco in the persuasive condition as we today can enjoy it, so that he couldn’t free Leonardo from inauspicious diagnosis which Freud himself only supposed, that is a ‘natural’ and biological perversion, a capacity at the limit of the human, inhibiting up to directly sublimate the desire for conjugation so staying on this side, almost an insuperable fence built by one’s own thinking and from where oneself thinking does jump somewhere else, without any reasonable link. Any technical and scientific skill would then have substituted in Leonardo child and then young man, replacing as a whole any trace of love, passion or libido, raising the man to a genius, damned by the nature itself.

However, we know today it was not, thanks to his own thinking offered by Leonardo in his ‘virgin’ work, before his following uninterrupted changes of mind, undoubtedly proved by the different coats of painting and by the overlapped brushstrokes.

First of all, Leonardo preferred, but without any evident reason, the ‘dry fresco’ technique which, opposite to the traditional ‘fresco’ technique which he himself well knew, would have exposed his work in progress, and during that longest making up, to a rapid and irreversible decay. Almost if he would hide, in the foreseeable ruin of that fresco, his true thinking which was a thinking love.

Working hard to be able to come into Jesus thinking, Leonardo got to think indeed the conjugation he desired but finding himself betrayed hurted violated.  

In ‘Cenacolo’ there is a game of hands, something prepared to escape an audience looking at the faces, and showing what the painter really was thinking about the relation between Jesus, so bright and central, and Judas, twisted and shadowed figure.

Since that dream Leonardo reported and commented by Freud, the bird of prey represented an aggressive and choking maternal affection. In ‘Cenacolo’ of Milan the greedy hand diverted by possession comes back with evidency, and will not link again the loving hand of Jesus-Leonardo, also if turning towards Judas’ hand, in whom Leonardo represented his own father, Ser Piero Da Vinci.[4] 

Lacking legitimate offspring infact, ser Piero Da Vinci bought Leonardo from his own natural wife, almost collecting the child as he lacked of legitimate children, but ignoring that Leonardo would like to be loved by his father.

When the fresco was ready, the lavish Ludovico il Moro had no more money to pay the excellent work made by Leonardo, who had to accept - swallowing yet another disappointment - a famous  vineyard in the centre of Milan. After that ‘Cenacolo’ Leonardo didn’t come back on the item, also if that important work opened to him his hidden capacity to love, even subsequently an unsatisfying maternal rapacity.

His own thinking of love was no more over, nor he was biologically not able to love as Freud, wondering assumed.

Leonardo however didn’t arrive on time to enjoy a real analytical work, so proving[5] his own buds of ‘salus’ he could cultivate.



Marina Bilotta Membretti / Cernusco sul Naviglio - May 24, 2016



[1] This text has been briefly proposed during a Work session in class in the past ‘Symposium 2015 – 2016’.

[2] I took part in the guided tour of the Association “Neiade Immaginare arte”.

[3] Mathew Gospel - Mt 26, 20-25

[4] Ser Piero Da Vinci, was living between 1427 and 1504 and was father of Leonardo, also notary in Florence and man of culture.  

[5] Il pensiero di natura, Giacomo B.Contri – SIC Edizioni (1998). It’s clear the thesis that any individual thinking works ‘on’ the biological nature and not recognizing oneself as submissive : that is since the birth of a child.

(6) Stefano Frassetto is born in Turin in 1968. After his degree in Architecture at ‘Politecnico’ he begun as graphic novelist for local magazines. In the ‘90s he edited in France too, on ‘Le Réverbère’ and on ‘Libération’ : then he created ‘Ippo’ for ‘Il Giornalino’ and then the stripe ‘35MQ’ for the swiss magazine ‘20 Minuti’. In 2000 he came into ‘La Stampa’ as portraitist for cultural page and the insert ‘Tuttolibri’, then for the weekly ‘Origami’. Today he works also for the swiss magazine ‘Le Temps’.

Cookies user preferences
We use cookies to ensure you to get the best experience on our website. If you decline the use of cookies, this website may not function as expected.
Accept all
Decline all
Tools used to analyze the data to measure the effectiveness of a website and to understand how it works.
Google Analytics