Born January 28, 1929. Died April 14, 2001.
Though little known outside his native Japan, Hiroshi Teshigahara is one of the great masters of cinema art. Teshigahara studied oil painting at the Tokyo National University of Fine Arts and Music, which he graduated in 1950. He also studied, and attained mastery of the art of Ikebana, traditional Japanese Flower Arranging. He became the headmaster of the Sogetsu School of Ikebana, a school that was founded by his father, Sofu Teshigahara. It seems that his years of devotion to this traditional art form taught Hiroshi a sublime sense of the aesthetic, an intuitive sense which is expressed naturally in each of his films, which suffuses each of his images.
He is perhaps best known as director of the film Woman in the Dunes, a surreal masterpiece based on the novel by Kobo Abe. This film deals with the situation of an entomologist who is waylaid by a bunch of rural villagers, and forced to help a widowed woman shovel sand in order to avoid a landslide that would destroy her house.
Teshigahara also collaborated with Abe on the films The Pitfall, The Ruined Map, and The Face Of Another, a film that postulates that if a man was to change his face, he would undergo a corresponding change in character.
In 1984, Teshigahara directed a wonderful documentary on the Spanish architect Antonio Gaudi. This film (titled, appropriately enough, Antonio Gaudi), is made almost entirely of images of Gaudi's work, with almost no recourse to spoken dialogue or narration. Somehow Teshigahara manages to distill the essence of Gaudi's work, and express his deep appreciation of it's aesthetic, showing a definite harmony between natural and synthetic elements.
Teshigahara's film Rikyu, produced in 1989, focuses on the life of Japan's most famous master of the Tea Ceremony, Sen Rikyu, who lived in the sixteenth century. It is a film full of jealousy, violence, treachery, and yet the filmmaker is more concerned with image, tone, and harmony than he is with plot or character development, so it appears to be the most direct expression of Teshigahara's highly developed talent for aesthetic composition.
Other films by Teshigahara include Otoshiana, La Fleur De L'age, Explosion Course, Summer Soldiers, and his last film Goh-Hime, which unfortunately has not been made readily available for an international market.