Wednesday, August 29, 2007

Movie Musings: High and Low (1963)

Dir.: Akira Kurosawa

Highly recommended, however, if you are new to Kurosawa's films, I would suggest watching some of his other films first such as Seven Samurai, Ikiru and/or Yojimbo.

Note: Part of my years long review of the films of Akira Kurosawa. High and Low marks the beginning of the end of this film review. I have five more films to watch after this one and then I can declare myself finished with Kurosawa (for now).

High and Low is a modern film with an interesting premise. Toshiro Mifune plays a high level executive of a shoe company. He must make a choice to pay the ransom of his chauffeur's kidnapped son or the boy will die. The film is effectively split into two parts with Part One focusing on Mifune and his moral dilemma, and Part Two focusing on the kidnapper and the efforts by the police to find him. The film's depiction of the struggle between the classes and how the rich and poor effect each other makes for a riveting theme. Cinematically, as usual, the film is gorgeous with Kurosawa's meticulous attention to detail and positioning of the actors. There is a stunning train sequence (very Hitchcock!) and a harrowing sequence of the kidnapper wandering in an alley of desperate heroin addicts. At the end, Kurosawa asks us to consider that even though the nature of good and evil seems so cut and dry, it might be possible that one resembles the other.

A fine film, beautifully done, with Kurosawa's usual company of marvelous actors including Kyoko Kagawa as Mifune's wife and Tatsuya Nakadai as Inspector Tokuro.

I was disappointed that the DVD, put out by Criterion, did not have any extras. I would have enjoyed watching commentary for this film.

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