He directed more than 80 films and worked almost his whole life at the famous Toho Studios. Now Kon Ichikawa has succumbed to pneumonia at age 92, according to a spokesperson from Toho, and reported by the Associated Press. Ichikawa first came to notice in the late 1950s and early 1960s art house movement, alongside Bergman, Godard, Kurosawa and other masters. The anti-war films The Burmese Harp (1956) and Fires on the Plain (1959) and the strange drama about an avenging cross-dresser An Actor's Revenge (1963) are considered among the world's great classics.
His documentary Tokyo Olympiad (1965) beautifully captured the physical aesthetics of the games, rather than the competitive factor. More recently, his film Dora-heita (2000) showed a sprightly youthfulness, telling a story co-written back in 1969 with Akira Kurosawa about a commissioner appointed to a dangerous red light district who cleverly plays both ends against the middle. Ichikawa was born in Uji-Yamada, Japan, on Nov. 20, 1915, the son of a kimono merchant. He was sickly as a child and spent a great deal of time drawing and watching movies. He has cited Disney cartoons as one of his primary influences. Later, he attended a technical school, and started working as an animator and an assistant director on live action films. Ichikawa was celebrated at film festivals all over the world, though on one occasion, he called himself a company man, simply making the films he was assigned.