The Quiet Duel [Import]
Based on a play by Kazuo Kikuta this early Akira Kurosawa film concerns an army surgeon (Mifune) who during a life-saving operation contaminates himself with syphilis which at the time was virtually incurable. Now suffering with the dreaded disease he needs to find the faith to return to his work helping save people's lives including the man from whom he contracted the disease. Starring Toshiro Mifune in his second of many film collaborations with Akira Kurosawa.System Requirements:Running Time: 95 MinutesFormat: DVD MOVIE Genre: MISCELLANEOUS/OTHER Rating: NR UPC: 787364718795
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Flawed, sure. And, my respects to the composer, but the "mutual multiplier effect" (Kurosawa's term for it) of the extra-diagetic with the visual...is, unfortunately, maybe not working at top form, here. In fact, there is one strangley intrusive music box that nearly spoils the scene of confrontation and confession between Shimura and Mifune. I cannot fault the composer, who confessed that he did not get along as well with Kurosawa as some others. I do not doubt the man's integrity or sesitivity. I do think film is a collaborative process.
Still, one learns so much from an early film. I see the kernal of an idea for Red Beard in much of this film. And, despite any criticism, Red Beard is a profoundly moving piece of cinema. It is instructive to view The Quiet Duel, then Red Beard to see the master's growth. If you are a Kurofan, this DVD will be a welcome addition to your knowledge and collection of the master's work!
There is a dramatic quality in the script and acting that shows a serious director was in charge of this film. The subject matter was risque for its' time and place. That required a fair degree of discretion and subtlety which Kurosawa provided. Rather than the old "I got it from a toilet seat" routine, we see the events leading up to the syphylis infection of a Japanese combat doctor in 1944. Its' innocence is essetial to the plot. This is a morality tale of innocence unable to defend itself. The characters are all very real and display a variety of morals and perspectives. The hero of our story is a difficult one to empathise with. His steadfast adherance to his self-denial effects many around him. There are many issues that arise and we are left having to accept that not all of life's problems result in happy endings. However, we still get to view a somewhat silver lining.
This is Kurosawa's ninth film as full director, and his second collaboration with the power combo of Shimura Takeshi and Mifune Toshiro. It tells the story of a doctor, brilliant and willful, who is infected with syphilis while saving a patients life on the battlefield. At this time in history, syphilis cures were chancy at best, often hurting the patient more than if they had just been left alone. It was basically the death sentence that AIDs is today, carrying the same stigmatism. The doctor knows he has a death sentence, and must distance himself from his girlfriend or all meaningful human contact, in order not to infect someone else with the dread disease.
"The Quiet Duel" revisits some of the themes from his previous work, Drunken Angel. However, whereas "Drunken Angel" had the doctor as a flawed character, "The Quiet Duel" presents him as a tower of heroic strength; almost able to withstand without regret the cruel fate he has been inflicted with. In an impulsive moment, to save a man's life, he loses everything of meaning and must endure what his life has become as a result.
The slight and apparent flaw in the film is that Mifune's doctor keeps operating on patients even though he is infected. He shies from all human touch save the inside of an operating theater, but one can't help but wonder how easy it would be for one of his gloves to break and the disease to slip into a patients body. I thought this should have been addressed better, but as it is suspension of disbelief has to come into play.
Even more than "Drunken Angel", Mifune's acting skills and shear screen power come out to play here. His doctor is a far cry from his slick gangster, and shades of the Red Beard he will become are apparent. Shimura has a lesser supporting role, as would always be the case when the powerhouse of Mifune takes the screen, but he brings a lightness and human element that would be otherwise missing. There is one scene that is just amazing...but I don't want to ruin it for you. Just watch it, and you will see.
This DVD includes some really nice interviews from cinematographer Setsuo Kobayashi, actress Miki Sanjo and composer Akila Ifukube. While not quite up to par with the Criterion Collection releases, it is still a fantastic DVD.
Before the war began, he was engaged with a beautiful and kind manners, but once the war is over, he simply decides to hide the true reason that makes him to change his decision to marry her.
That's the moral dilemma he confronts. Must he to silence the awful truth or on the contrary to cancel the engagement to give her another opportunity to be happy?
Once more, we are in front not only of one of the most original films ever made, but with this release Kurosawa proves once more, why he was one of the most remarkable filmmakers ever born.
Make yourself a favour; don't miss it.
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