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Waiting on the Weather: Making Movies with Akira Kurosawa [Hardcover]

Teruyo Nogami , Donald Richie

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Book Description

Sept. 1 2006
Teruyo Nogami was a relative newcomer to film production when hired as a continuity/script assistant on Akira Kurosawa 's Rashomon. A witness to its filming-and its near destruction in a fire-over the next fifty years she worked on all the master's films- Ikiru, Seven Samurai, Kagemusha, and Dreams. No one was more closely involved in Kurosawa's productions, and in this memoir, charmingly illustrated with her own sketches, Nogami writes candidly about the director's energy, creativity, and his famous rages, telling the inside story on how so many classics of world cinema were made.

"Teruyo Nogami was Akira Kurosawa's script supervisor throughout his career, more importantly she was his loyal assistant and supporter during both the good and bad moments of his life. She is an extraordinary woman and these memories are a path to understanding the temperament and genius of one of the few... geniuses of cinematic history. It's not uncommon for a film director to have made one or two great films, but Kurosawa was able to create many masterpieces in many styles, set in both modern and classic times. So the opportunity to know this artist through the lucid eyes of a long-time collaborator is a privilege and an opportunity. Nogami-san's salty personality is perfect to show his many sides, not always flattering, which is essential in grasping him. This book is a treasury of stories and a key to the great body of cinematic work of Akira Kurosawa." - Francis Ford Coppola

"If you're interested in movies, then you're interested in the work of Akira Kurosawa. Teruyo Nogami was by Kurosawa's side for almost 50 years, as he quietly (and sometimes, not so quietly) revolutionized the very  grammar of cinema. This is a wonderfully intimate and beautifully written portrait of one of the greatest filmmakers who ever lived, which makes it essential reading." - Martin Scorsese

"Sure to become a classic memoir, essential for our understanding of one of the greatest filmmakers of the 20th century." - The Japan Times

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About the Author

B. 1927 in Tokyo. She joined Daiei Films in 1949 and since 1950 served as Kurosawa's assistant on every film he made until his death. She now writes about films for magazines and works to spread and protect Kurosawa's legacy. Donald Richie has been writing about Japan for over 50 years from his base in Tokyo and is the author of over 40 books and hundreds of essays and reviews. He is widely admired for his incisive film studies on Ozu and Kurosawa, and for his stylish and incisive observations on Japanese culture.

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Amazon.com: 4.2 out of 5 stars  6 reviews
17 of 17 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Absolutely essential reading for Kurosawa fans June 13 2007
By Zack Davisson - Published on Amazon.com
My Kurosawa library is pretty full. Heavy, academic tomes like Stephen Prince's "The Warrior's Camera" and informative and personal showcases like Donald Richie's "The Films of Akira Kurosawa" can do a lot to deepen one's appreciation for the master filmmaker. Only "Waiting for the Weather" can make you smile, make you feel like you are sitting right there, caught up in the whirlwind of genius holding on for dear life and enjoying every minute of the ride.

Teruyo Nogami is a familiar face to most Kurosawa fans, having appeared in the 2001 documentary "Kurosawa" as well as lending her insights to the various Criterion Collection releases of Kurosawa's films. I can't picture her as anything else than a pleasantly smiling elderly woman, little realizing the will-power and strength that must have been necessary to serve as an assistant for the fierce personality of Kurosawa for so many years. Nor did I realize that she helped raise Juzo Itami, one of the greatest of Japan's modern filmmakers, best known for his comedy "Tampopo".

In "Waiting for the Weather", Nogomi, or Non-chan, as Kurosawa called her, waxes nostalgic about all the trials, tribulations, exaltations and boring down-times that went into creating some of the greatest moments ever caught on film. Her entry into the film world came through correspondence with Mansaku Itami, a famous director in his time although now somewhat forgotten, and then continued organically until her being hired on for an experimental new film called "Rashomon", which would change her life forever. From then on, she was a constant presence on Kurosawa's set, staying with him even during the dark times of "Dersu Uzala" and all the way until his final film "Madadayo" and his death. She was never a great mover or shaker, just someone who helped get things done, and was an essential piece of the Kurosawa machine.

There are so many scenes and memories in this book that put a human face on Kurosawa, and that are so pleasantly described, that it would be impossible to pick out a favorite. Imagine Kurosawa and his team taking a break from intense work of filming "Rashomon" to climb nearby Mt. Wakakusa and engage in some impromptu late-night dancing and stripping down to their underwear. Imagine sharing a laugh when the cages holding the crows for the climatic scene in "Dreams" were thrown open, and the black birds just sort of wandered around instead of taking off dramatically. This is the kind of nostalgia that Non-chan shares, and every word paints a vivid picture of affection and love for the human being behind the legend.
3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Standing Beside the Emperor June 25 2008
By Samurai Girl - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Hardcover|Verified Purchase
Teruyo Nogami, "script girl" to Kurosawa-as of this writing is still alive-and is one of the last close associates of Akira Kurosawa to be able to tell us about the man, his working methods, and the conditions of making some of the 20th century's finest films.

This charming book is written with respect, and the conviction that Kurosawa was a great filmmaker. There seems to be a lot of repetition in the stories told about and by Kurosawa, but there are some new bits and pieces, too. It is fascinating to hunker down in the cold with Miss Nogami, as she helps in the filming of "Dersu Uzala", for example. She is able to make you feel as if you were there, with her simple, clear descriptions.

An absolutely delightful book, and a necessary part of your Kurosawa bookshelf!
6 of 8 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Arigato Nogami Donno! Jan. 21 2007
By David G. Cercone Jr. - Published on Amazon.com
What do you do when you stand next to greatness? And? You are possessed of an unassuming wit and courage, strength, loyalty and passion? Why you wait until the Master is gone and then write your memoirs to share with the world and you get the single greatest Western observor of your nation to write the introduction, thats what you do, then you get a super cool Canadian to get a wonderful small press in California to publish it in English for you!

That is what No-Chan, as The Sensei always called her, has done and anyone who loves film and or Japan must be deeply grateful to her and the peerless Donald Richie for bringing her recolections of Kurosawa to us in an excellent translation. Run, do not walk, to purchase this warm, honest, intelligent, funny and sad volume!
5 of 8 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars A Satisfying Look at the Master, Akira Kurosawa Oct. 31 2007
By Stephen Hawco - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Hardcover|Verified Purchase
This is a biographical book by a Japanese woman who worked with one of the greatest directors of all time,Akira Kurosawa. She was his script girl and friend, so she saw him at work, as well as in the midst of intimate moments.

In other words, she was poised to tell us some profound things about the man, but she fails to do so. There are some funny moments, some touching moments, but the supposition that this book gives you an in-depth look at how he actually worked is a lie. It only recalls a few different anecdotes from his sets, out of a possible million.

On the technical side, this is light reading, so those of you who want to start exploring Kurosawa could start here. On the other hand, this could bore you because a lot of this is about Nogami's feelings. Also, be prepared to be surprised by the Japanese sensibility: as his subordinate, she really viewed Kurosawa as being better than her.

If you really want to understand HOW Kurosawa worked (multicamera set-ups, telephoto lenses), read the books by Stuart Galbraith IV and Stephen Prince, not this one. Shut up, Martin Scorsese. I hate you and your recommendations.
3.0 out of 5 stars A must for those of us interested in Kurosawa, ... July 21 2014
By Be Fine - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Hardcover|Verified Purchase
A must for those of us interested in Kurosawa, however, the book is in much need of a talented editor as there is some repetition, the flow is rather less than smooth, and I, frankly, wanted more.

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