The Lower Depths (1957) (Criterion Collection) [Import]
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Director Akira Kurosawas transformation of Maxim Gorkys classic proletarian play, The Lower Depths, demonstrates another side of the acclaimed filmmaker's remarkable versatility. In contrast to his usual broad canvas and kinesthetic filmmaking style, here he explores the possibilities of the stage, finding intimacy in his examination of a group of destitutes set, ironically, within Japans prosperous Edo period. Starring an ensemble cast that includes Toshiro Mifune, Isuzu Yamada, and Minoru Chiaki, this adaptation is a Buddhist meditation on the human condition, a poignant yet comic investigation of one of Kurosawas favorite themes: the conflict between illusion and reality.
In faithfully adapting Maxim Gorky's classic play The Lower Depths, Akira Kurosawa incorporated themes from several of his better-known films. Transplanted from the play's Russian setting to Japan's Edo (pre-Tokyo) period, the film cleverly places its poverty-stricken characters into a vividly Japanese context while retaining their tenacious defense against life's relentless miseries. As the title implies, the comedic drama unfolds literally in a hole--a dreary tenement sunken into a refuse-strewn landscape--where Kurosawa's superb cast breathes life into the hopes, dreams, and delusions of their characters. Landlady, thief, prostitute, tinker, actor... all but the cynical gambler live in desperate self-deception, and Kurosawa finds poignant humor in the ways they hold reality at bay. Toshiro Mifune excels as the thief, but this is perhaps Kurosawa's greatest ensemble achievement; lengthy rehearsals and multiple cameras resulted in a fluid, masterful film full of fine performances, confined to only two intimate settings yet embracing universal foibles of humanity. --Jeff Shannon --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.
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Lower Depths is an intricate story of poverty and those who fall into the deepest of socioeconomic despair based on the writer Maxim Gorky's play with the same name. The story takes place in the outskirts of Paris in a poorhouse where Pépel (Jean Gabin), a thief, is planning a raiding. Pépel is having an affair, which he tries to break off, with Vassilissa (Suzy Prim), the proprietor's wife, as he has come to realize that he loves Natacha (Junie Astor), Vassilissa's sister. This provides much intrigue as Vassilissa wants her husband dead because she wants to leave the poorhouse.
Gambling has driven the Baron (Louis Jouvet) to poverty and he has lost his administrative position at the ministry due to theft to cover for his gambling debts. When the Baron arrives home suicidal from one last disastrous gamble he searches for his gun in desperation. Instead the Baron discovers that he has a guest, Pépel, with whom the Baron builds a friendship as they spend the night chatting and playing cards. During the night Pépel finds out that creditors are about to repossess the Baron's mansion and the Baron is only a night away from same living conditions as Pépel.
The majority of the story takes place at the poorhouse where a number of interesting characters provide much insight into how people end up in the lower depths of society. Renoir's adaptation of the Lower Depths was thoroughly appreciated by Gorky as Renoir concentrated on how people shift social class either up or down. This focus is enhanced by the cast with the exception of Junie Astor whose face remains as motionless as a dusty bust when she is in focus of the camera.Read more ›
Coming this June, Criterion will release this movie as part of a 2-Disc box set. The other film in the box set will be Jean Renoir's version of the "Lower Depths".
Yes, that Jean Renoir.
The full specs on the DVD's are available on Criterion's website and/or the Home Vision Entertainment Website.
This should be one of Criterion's best releases to date.
Before I saw this movie, I was excited about it, because it's famous Kurosawa's movie! However, just 30 minutes later I felt this movie was so boring and also acting was so bad. Especially, Mifune, I really couldn't understand what he was saying. Speak clearly!! Also the other actors aren't that good either.
The story isn't so impressive or entertaining at all, you'll just get depressed by watching this movie.
Don't waste your money on this, it doesn't mean all Kurosawa's films are great! This is a really weak film of his.
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