- Actors: Toshirô Mifune, Masayuki Mori, Kyôko Kagawa, Tatsuya Mihashi, Takashi Shimura
- Directors: Akira Kurosawa
- Writers: Akira Kurosawa, Eijirô Hisaita, Hideo Oguni, Ryûzô Kikushima, Shinobu Hashimoto
- Producers: Akira Kurosawa, Tomoyuki Tanaka
- Format: Black & White, Closed-captioned, Dolby, DVD-Video, Subtitled, Widescreen, NTSC
- Language: Japanese
- Subtitles: English
- Region: Region 1 (US and Canada This DVD will probably NOT be viewable in other countries. Read more about DVD formats.)
- Aspect Ratio: 2.35:1
- Number of discs: 1
- MPAA Rating:
- Studio: Criterion
- Release Date: Jan. 17 2006
- Run Time: 151 minutes
- Average Customer Review: 13 customer reviews
- ASIN: B000BR6QCI
- Amazon Bestsellers Rank: #40,929 in Movies & TV Shows (See Top 100 in Movies & TV Shows)
The Bad Sleep Well (Criterion Collection)
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A young executive hunts down his father's killer in director Akira Kurosawa's scathing The Bad Sleep Well. Continuing his legendary collaboration with actor Toshiro Mifune, Kurosawa combines elements of Hamlet and American film noir to chilling effect in exposing the corrupt boardrooms of postwar corporate Japan.
The Bad Sleep Well tells the story of corruption at the highest levels of Japanese business and its tragic consequences. Though flawed by a tedious introductory sequence and by an ending that seems out of sync with the story, it is a fascinating movie and the middle part is especially exciting.
Japanese legend Toshiro Mifune plays Koichi Nishi, the seemingly stoic bridegroom who is trying to get ahead by marrying the boss's daughter, Kieko (Kyoko Kagawa), who was crippled as a girl. The bride's brother, in a shocking display, exposes the groom's motives during his wedding toast and threatens his new brother-in-law with death if he disappoints his sister. But Nishi is not who we think. He was born the illegitimate son of the man who Kieko's father, Iwabuchi (Maysayuki Mori), manipulated into suicide. Now Nishi wants revenge for his father's death. As Nishi slowly destroys Iwabuchi's life, he makes the fatal error of falling in love with his wife, who already loves him. Their unconsummated marriage stands between these two like a palpable pillar of stone. But just when we think the stone has been tossed aside by love, Iwabuchi finds out who his son-in-law really is.
Shot in black and white, this film falls just short of being brilliant. Mifune is amazing in his portrayal of this complex man who lets his father's past destroy his own future, and Maysayuki Mori's performance as the evil Iwabuchi is understated but nonetheless chilling. --Luanne Brown --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.
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After viewing a few more Kurosawa pictures I came upon one entitled 'Throne of Blood'. While I felt it was defiantly one of Kurosawa's stronger pictures, it also seemed to lack the Shakespearian atmosphere that Ran had. I liked it, but felt it was closer to The Seven Samurai as oppose to Ran.
Then, later still, I came upon The Bad Sleep Well. I expected something similar to Throne of Blood, with Kurosawa's 50s-60s atmosphere rather then his 80s-90s atmosphere. Well it turned out that I was wrong. The Bad Sleep Well is easily Kurosawa's most underrated picture, overshadowed by Yojimbo & Sanjuro afterward, and The Hidden Fortress before. The Bad Sleep Well however, does not take the same ambiance as those pictures, rather it shows a flash of Kurosawa's elderly genius from such pictures as Kagemusha and Ran(not to undermine his early genius, its just that the film feels much like one of his later pictures). I won't bother going into detail on the story, as most are already familiar with Shakespeare's Hamlet, and American film-noir; but what I will tell you however, is how well it adapts to the story(s), and that its narrative really flows at a great pace.
The Bad Sleep Well features a great performance by Toshiro Mifune, playing the Hamlet character in a very interesting way, similar in some ways to Laurence Olivier's 1948 version. His performance is what steals the show; although I thought there were some interesting supporting roles, none really stand up to his sheer intensity.
The film stays as true to the play as possible in a modern Japan setting, keeping the essentials and retaking bits and pieces to give it a different, almost more nihilist feel. The changes flow smoothly though, and the film can be nicely appreciated by both fans of both William Shakespeare and Akira Kurosawa.
I give the Bad Sleep Well 8/10. It's not Ran or Rashomon, but it is defiantly one of his strongest pictures that is not regarded as a total masterpiece. Defiantly check it out, you will not be disappointed.
Mifune does not get good reviews in modern outfits. He does not look as good as when he is in a kimono. But when he appears out of the smoke in a suicide scene on top of a vulcano, you might think he was the inspiration for Darth Vader. This complex hero, motivated by vengence but softened by love, is a mix of good and evil in a transition between boy and man. Greek myths were never made better.
Too bad the title, which is so catchy, poetic and ironic in Japanese, does not translate very well. Don't let that be a turn-off. This movie will be engraved in your memory for the rest of your life.
Indeed much of Kurosawa's best work carries a highly distinctive and supremely confident muscular swagger which can be found here in the stirring (and rather addictive) musical motif, the altogether patient and very deliberate pacing, and the seemingly effortless transitions he makes between the tragic and the comic.
*The Bad Sleep Well* often gets described as a variation on *Hamlet*. The key word here is "variation" (rather than "version" or "adaptation"), for while Kurosawa might have begun with Shakespeare, the final products really don't turn out to be in any sense all that similar. There is no Gertrude, no Rozencrantz and Guildenstern, let alone any gravediggers (just to name a few), and there is very little structural resemblance between the stories (inasmuch as *Hamlet* can be said to have any sort of structure). For example, the finale doesn't conclude with virtually *everybody* getting killed--after all, in Kurosawa's framework the bad sleep well (and consequently live happily ever after). Also, Nishi's character is much less ambiguous than Hamlet's; while he may at certain junctures fail to take his plan for revenge the entire way, he doesn't come close to sharing the overall indecision and confusion of Hamlet. But these sorts of differences actually make the complex interrelationship between the two works all the more intriguing and thought-provoking.
The film's story might eventually become "clear as a bell," but it certainly does not start out that way. Don't get discouraged if during the first twenty minutes (or even half hour) you're having trouble figuring out what's going on, or who's who, esp. during the opening wedding sequence. But I think such initial confusion might be intended, because it really does set your mind aworking to help put the pieces of the puzzle together and to understand the various characters' motivations. (It should be noted, by the way, that the selfless and straightforward acting in Kurosawa's films is amongst the best you will ever see.)
I wouldn't recommend this as someone's first or (God forbid!) only Kurosawa. But if you've been struck by something you've seen of his already, then you most certainly will not want to miss *The Bad Sleep Well*.
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