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Red Beard (The Criterion Collection)
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- New high-definition digital transfer, with restored image and sound and enhanced for widescreen televisions
- Notes by Japanese film historian Donald Richie
Top Customer Reviews
The film is shot in black-and-white, and features many haunting images. Of special note is the scene in which Mifune attempts to break through the protective shell of an abandoned young girl. A young doctor has been trying to give her a spoonful of medicine; he quits after she slaps his hand away three times. Mifune takes over, and the girl continues to slap the proffered medicine away-- once, twice, trice; Mifune expresses an array of emotions in the simple act of trying once again. Finally, on the seventh attempt, the girl accepts the medicine. The quiet authenticity of this moment is rare in film.
Here's where Kurosawa does his best. The scene where Chobo is dying and the maids are yelling down the well, the camera tilts down from the faces of the maids into the reflection of water at the bottom of the well, but gives the illusion that the camera has shifted to the bottom of the well looking up at the maids. With a single teardrop from Otoyo hitting the face of the water, then we realize that the camera is actually hidden above them. Genuine masterwork.
In the movie, an arrogant young physician, Dr. Yasumoto unwilling works in a charity clinic with Dr. Niide, a.k.a., "Red Beard", who is played by Toshiro Mifune in his last role in a Kurosawa film.
This film is also the last black and white movie Kurosawa shot, and is a beautiful coda to this phase of Kurosawa's work. The use of lighting in particular has great symbolic and aesthetic effect as we watch Dr. Yasumoto learn medicine and compassion under Red Beard's tutelage.
Kurosawa does not pull many punches with 19th Century medicine: we sit with the physicians as they listen to the final breaths of a dying patient and watch a woman thrash against restraints as Red Beard operates on her in an era without anesthetics. We hear stories of sexual abuse and see all the warts of human existence, but we do so with a tough compassion and charity that is profoundly stirring.
Kurosawa is not just a great director and artist, but a skilled psychologist and lover of mankind. This movie deserves to be ranked with other Kurosawa masterpieces like the Seven Samurai, Ran, and Rashomon.
Most Recent Customer Reviews
Good movie. Dated but for Toshiro Mifune's acting which is superb!Published 7 months ago by danny boy
One of the best movies I have ever seen, and I have seen a lot of them. This is also the best Kurosawa movie I have seen. Brilliantly filmed, with a touching and moving story.Published 8 months ago by Matthew King
I spend a lot of time in Japan and have seen several Japanese movies. I personally like Red Beard and Seven Samurai very much. My Japanese wife loves them as well.Published 10 months ago by Karlglobe
One of Mifune's best movies. Like watching Ojimbo with a conscience. Great movie!Published 13 months ago by eddienono
Outstanding Toshiro Mifune movie. No swords, but wow, is it good.Published 14 months ago by Barry Harrell
One of my all time favorite films. This is the final collaboration of the master Akira Kurosawa and the magnificent Toshiro Mifune. I highly recommend watching this one.Published 17 months ago by Richard Dolt
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