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The Bad Sleep Well (The Criterion Collection)
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This may be one of Kurosawa's best films. The mood is perfect. The scenes are perfect. Mifune is perfect. He wears a suit with the same danger as he wears his Kimono. His briefcase is no less deadly than his sword.
As a Kurosawa trademark, the ending is an exclamation point rather than a period. All the wrong people are dead, and all the wrong people walk away clean. This movie is not pleasant. It is, however, very good.
The Japanese opening credits with white symbols on black background together with the opening score set a dark and frustrating tone to the film. At first, the hostile and angry mood in the opening score is a little perplexing. However, as the film unfolds, it makes much more sense. The introduction of the story takes place at the wedding party for two of the main characters Koichi Nishi (Toshirô Mifune) and Keiko Iwabushi (Kyôko Kagawa). It turns out that the press has sniffed a story within the wedding, but these press members are far more respectful than what La Dolce Vita (1960) portrayed through its celebrity chasing paparazzi.Read more ›
Mifune does not get good reviews in modern outfits. He does not look as good as when he is in a kimono. But when he appears out of the smoke in a suicide scene on top of a vulcano, you might think he was the inspiration for Darth Vader. This complex hero, motivated by vengence but softened by love, is a mix of good and evil in a transition between boy and man. Greek myths were never made better.
Too bad the title, which is so catchy, poetic and ironic in Japanese, does not translate very well. Don't let that be a turn-off. This movie will be engraved in your memory for the rest of your life.
If you've ever mistakenly purchased a Mei Ah Japanese DVD, you'll know what I'm saying. These are produced for a Chinese market. A Chinese person translates the Japanese into Chinese. To broaden the market and perhaps sell to English speakers in Hong Kong, a Chinese person then translates the Chinese into English, or what's supposed to pass as English, but at times is closer to a pidgen language.
I've already suffered through these translations with Mei Ah once and I'm returning this unadvertised version unopened and canceling my Dodes Kaden order (I already have that on Mei Ah, also, and though I enjoy this movie I've never made it through once with the DVD and watch my old VHS instead.)
Short story: if you don't need the subtitles, this version will work. It may even work when you turn the Chinese subtitles on if you can read Chinese. But if you're an English speaker, you can laugh at the translations.
Shame on Amazon for hoisting this over on us by not stating on the sales page that this is a Mei Ah import!!
Movie: 5 stars from watching the VHS. DVD: 0 stars.
Indeed much of Kurosawa's best work carries a highly distinctive and supremely confident muscular swagger which can be found here in the stirring (and rather addictive) musical motif, the altogether patient and very deliberate pacing, and the seemingly effortless transitions he makes between the tragic and the comic.
*The Bad Sleep Well* often gets described as a variation on *Hamlet*. The key word here is "variation" (rather than "version" or "adaptation"), for while Kurosawa might have begun with Shakespeare, the final products really don't turn out to be in any sense all that similar. There is no Gertrude, no Rozencrantz and Guildenstern, let alone any gravediggers (just to name a few), and there is very little structural resemblance between the stories (inasmuch as *Hamlet* can be said to have any sort of structure). For example, the finale doesn't conclude with virtually *everybody* getting killed--after all, in Kurosawa's framework the bad sleep well (and consequently live happily ever after). Also, Nishi's character is far less ambiguous than Hamlet's; while he may at certain junctures fail to take his plan for revenge the entire way, he doesn't come close to sharing the overall indecision and confusion of Hamlet. But these sorts of differences actually make the complex interrelationship between the two works all the more intriguing and thought-provoking.
The film's story may eventually become "clear as a bell," but it certainly does not start out that way.Read more ›
Most Recent Customer Reviews
One of the least publicized but one of my favorite Kurosawa movies--especially the opening wedding scene. You can't go wrong with Kurosawa or Mifune.Published 2 months ago by Upeksa
This is a pretty good Japanese B&W film noir; but it's not really based on Shakespeare's Hamlet, except for a certain plot elements. Read morePublished 5 months ago by Q
I could not get the subtitles to display properly no matter what aspect ratio I selected for this disc. The bottom line was always cut off. Has anyone else had this problem?Published 6 months ago by Nocturne
THE BAD SLEEP WELL (Dir. Akira Kurosawa, 1960, 135 minutes, U.S.A. release 1963, Japanese with English subtitles) is one of the weirdest, most depressing of Kurosawa's... Read morePublished 6 months ago by Hui Shen ben Israel
How can you like an old black and white Japanese movie with English subtitles? I had to do a paper on it (because it is considered to be an adaptation of Hamlet) in my ENC2 class... Read morePublished 17 months ago by Craig Arnold
I don’t much write reviews here anymore, but thought it might benefit one or two people considering watching this film to know it will be a complete waste of their time. Read morePublished on January 11, 2014 by Daiho
The Iron Triangle is a label often applied to inherently corrupt (by the standards of most giajin) and inclusive business relationships consisting of government ministry... Read morePublished on December 7, 2013 by William Flanigan
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