Featuring the final collaboration between esteemed director Akira Kurosawa (Kagemusha
, The Seven Samurai
) and actor Toshiro Mifune (Yojimbo
, Hell in the Pacific
), this 1965 film explores the complex and tumultuous relationship between a doctor and his protégé, and the meaning of compassion and responsibility. Mifune plays the title character, a revered but stern and unbendable physician ministering to the poor in a clinic, driven by a sense of calling to the profession of medicine and to mankind. He is assigned a young brash intern whose rebellious and arrogant attitude threaten to disrupt the hospital and destroy his burgeoning career. Under the intense tutelage of the relentlessly stern doctor, however, the young doctor in training goes from a spoiled wunderkind insulted at having to work at a clinic he thinks is beneath him, to one who appreciates the compassionate nature of a doctor's calling. A long, intimate, and engrossing film, it displays some of Mifune's finest work as a man whose profound sense of higher purpose touches all around him. An earnest exploration of duty and honor, Red Beard
is an unlikely but worthy addition to the enduring legacy of Akira Kurosawa. --Robert Lane
A testament to the goodness of humankind, Akira Kurosawa's Red Beard (Akahige) chronicles the tumultuous relationship between an arrogant young doctor and a compassionate clinic director. Toshiro Mifune, in his last role for Kurosawa, gives a powerhouse performance as the dignified yet empathic director who guides his pupil to maturity, teaching the embittered intern to appreciate the lives of his destitute patients. Perfectly capturing the look and feel of 19th-century Japan, Kurosawa weaves a fascinating tapestry of time, place, and emotion.