What is cinema? The answer to this question is no easy matter. Long ago the Japanese novelist Shiga Naoya presented an essay written by his grandchild as one of the most remarkable prose pieces of his time. He had it published in a literary magazine. It was entitled "My Dog", and ran as follows: "My dog resembles a bear; he also resembles a badger; he also resembles a fox... " It proceeded to enumerate the dog's special characteristics, comparing each one to yet another animal developing into a full list of animal kingdom. However, the essay closed with, "But since he's a dog, he most resembles a dog."
I remember bursting out laughing when I read this essay, but it makes a very serious point. Cinema resembles so many other arts. If cinema has very literary characteristics, it also has theatrical qualities, a philosophical side, attributes of painting and sculpture and musical elements. But cinema is, in the final analysis, cinema.
- Akira Kurosawa