Jun 30, 2009

5th July 2009;Akira Kurosawa's Red Beard

Red Beard
A Film by Akira Kurosawa
Year : 1965
Country : Japan
Japanese with English Subtitles
5th Aug 2009: 5.45 pm
Call: 94430 39630

Akira Kurosawa's "Red Beard" is assembled with the complexity and depth of a good l9th-century novel, and it is a pleasure, in a time of stylishly fragmented films, to watch a director taking the time to fully develop his characters.
It is also rather startling to find a director who values the positive human impulses; whose film considers not only violence and deception, but also sacrifice and healing. There has been so much despair in recent films: More than we realize, until "Red Beard" provides such a contrast. There is no such thing, perhaps, as the right time or the wrong time to see a film. But somehow, at the end of a decade that has seen so many things go wrong, "Red Beard" seems necessary. Kurosawa takes the time to develop his story in a leisurely fashion, establishing a rhythm more in time with the way we really live.
His film is about a young doctor (Yuzo Kayama) who comes to a free public clinic, more or less against his will, to work under the famous old doctor Red Beard (Toshiro Mifune). The time is about 1825. Modern advances in medicine are just seeping into Japan, and the young doctor is proud of the advanced training he's received at Nagasaki. He wants to be the personal doctor for a rich family; public clinics, repel him. For many days he even refuses to wear a uniform.
Kurosawa leaves his central narrative from time to time, to tell us stories about some of the patients in the clinic. He develops a subplot about a maltreated young girl, who refuses to talk to anyone and who becomes the young doctor's first real patient. The young doctor becomes sick himself, and old Red Beard subtly encourages the girl to nurse the doctor. By healing him, she is healed; and then she takes upon herself the care of a young thief and pauper in the neighborhood. So that three people are cured instead of one.
It's a story that is both deep and sweeping at the same time. The film continues Kurosawa's obsession with existential humanism, of which it is a culmination of his views . As the pinnacle of his artistry, "Red Beard" towers not only over most of Kurosawa's films, but over most movies in Japan, where it is revered as a "must see."

"Red Beard" is another lesson in attention to detail — a lesson fruitlessly taught in the past by Welles, Ophuls, Kubrick, Hitchcock, Ford, Scorsese, and so many others. Kurosawa's care with the story and image is masterly (it took the director a year to shoot the film). Everything in this movie holds together.

Akira Kurosawa

Akira Kurosawa was the youngest of seven children, born in Tokyo on 23 March 1910. A talented painter, he enrolled in an art school that emphasized Western styles. Around this time he also joined an artists' group with a great enthusiasm for nineteenth-century Russian literature, with Dostoevsky a particular favourite. Another influence was Heigo, one of his brothers, who loved film and worked as a benshi, a film narrator/commentator for foreign silent films. His suicide deeply affected the director's sensibilities.In 1930 he responded to a newspaper advertisement for assistant directors at a film studio and began assisting Kajiro Yamamoto, who liked the fact he knew 'a lot about things other than movies'. Within five years he was writing scripts and directing whole sequences for Yamamoto films. In 1943 he made his debut as a director with Judo Saga (Sanshiro Sugata), with a magnificent martial-arts sequence.

His early films were produced during the Second World War, so had to comply to themes prescribed by official state propaganda policy. It was Drunken Angel which was Kurosawa's first personally expressive work, made in 1948 and featuring Toshiro Mifune who became Kurosawa's favourite leading man.

For those who discover Kurosawa, they will find a master technician and stylist, with a deep humanism and compassion for his characters and an awe of the enormity of nature. He awakened the West to Japanese cinema with Rashomon, which won the top prize in the Venice Film Festival of 1951, and also a special Oscar for best foreign film. A golden period followed, with the West enthralled by his work. Seven Samurai, Yojimbo etc.

Following Red Beard (Akahige) in 1965 he entered a frustrating period of aborted projects and forced inactivity and when in 1970 his first film in five years (Dodeska-den) failed at the box office, he attempted suicide. Directing a Soviet-Japanese production, Dersu Uzala helped him to recover and took four years to make. It won the Oscar for Best Foreign Film in 1975 and a gold medal at the Moscow Film Festival.

A true auteur, he supervised the editing of nearly all his films and wrote or collaborated on the scripts of most. His memoirs were published in 1982, titled Something like an Autobiography. In 1989 he won an Oscar for Lifetime Achievement. Kurosawa died in 1998.


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ரவிசங்கர் said...

நேற்றைய திரையிடலில் கலந்து கொண்டேன். மிக அருமையாக இருந்தது. நன்றியும் பாராட்டுகளும். கோணங்கள் பற்றி என் வலைப்பதிவில் எழுதியுள்ளேன். பார்க்க:

கோவையில் உலகத் திரைப்படங்கள்

Bala said...

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