- The end of an era for Kurosawa- his last film in black and white, his last film (sixteen total I believe) with Mifune, and last film of the 1960’s (it is my understanding there were a number of projects that never came to fruition for whatever reason in the back half of the decade)
- Since 1958’s The Hidden Fortress and every film since (a fertile artistic period, even for Kurosawa)- each has the superwide 2.35 : 1 Tohoschop aspect ratio and Kurosawa knows exactly how to design the entire frame
- Starts with the worst tour of all time- haha. A doctor, who hates it at Mifune’s clinic/hospital gives a tour of it to the new young arrogant Yûzô Kayama character. These are the slums from 1957’s The Lower Depths but in hospital form. Poverty. And in line with Kurosawa’s worldview- the tour guide says several times “this place is awful” and “these people are better off dead”. The subsequent story is the transformation of Kayama’s characters, the stories of those in the hospital, and the wisdom and tutelage of Mifune’s titular character. Again, it is a testament to Mifune’s range (though he’s almost always a stubborn character) and transformation over the decades that he’s now the teacher or mentor in the relationship—here just 11 years before in Seven Samurai this is Shimura’s role. And he’s the young naïve detective in Stray Dog.
- At 24 minutes- a gorgeous frame- a crooked tree dividing the frame of the young doctor and girl
At 24 minutes- a gorgeous frame- a crooked tree dividing the frame of the young doctor and girl
- At 26 minutes- a trademark shot- Kurosawa has the back of four heads in the foreground—while the background, in deep focus clarity, is an old man building/mending a wheel- very strong composition. There are many of these- but I found the same amount if not less than the amount in say Sanjuro– which is a film of 96 minutes. Red Beard is 185 minutes
- A stunner of a composition of the dueling heads of the mentor and mentee in a stark minimalist room. Mifune is front in parallel/profile.
A stunner of a composition of the dueling heads of the mentor and mentee in a stark minimalist room. Mifune is front in parallel/profile
- Another great shot in the Kurosawa arsenal- the one at 75 minutes —all the heads to the left, huddled in the frame, listening to the story of a dying man
Another great shot in the Kurosawa arsenal- the one at 75 minutes —all the heads to the left, huddled in the frame, listening to the story of a dying man
- There are some formal issues with the film— Kurosawa breaks from Kayama’s story arch to get a long flashback of a secondary character—the flashback of the tragic death of his wife (where we get the inner monologue from her at some point).
- If it was just that- that’s one thing- but before the intermission- we get this terrible action sequence. Ebert, who adores the film, 4/4 stars- says “in a scene that stands amusingly outside the film’s mood”— that’s one way of putting it. Mifune chops about 10 thugs in half like he’s Sanjuro again. It has nothing to do with this movie- nails on a chalkboard.
- I have less of a problem with this one but we also get a vignette of Kayama’s character taking care of a young girl keeping a journal and getting his inner monologue (both as he’s writing the journal and later without the journal just as a storytelling crutch). Just three examples of poor film form
Kurosawa constantly chops up the wide frame, with deep focus, into quadrants and meticulously designs every level of it— foreground, center background… left, right and center
- There is a reoccurring great shot of the Kayama character laying down on the ground, the camera is there with him, and his faced is perfectly blocked by the stool
- Highly Recommend – top 10 of the year quality film