- Actors: Toshiro Mifune, Yuzo Kayama, Tatsuyoshi Ehara, Tsutomu Yamazaki, Ryuzo Kikushima
- Directors: Akira Kurosawa
- Producers: Ryuzo Kikushima, Tomoyuki Tanaka
- Format: Anamorphic, Black & White, 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: Oct. 1 2002
- Run Time: 185 minutes
- Average Customer Review: 20 customer reviews
- ASIN: B000067IY6
- Amazon Bestsellers Rank: #28,188 in Movies & TV Shows (See Top 100 in Movies & TV Shows)
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Red Beard (Widescreen) [Subtitled] [Criterion Collection]
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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.
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However, "Red Beard" is a great film. Kurosawa's message is important, and worth hearing. The film's story flows like honey down an empty riverbed, and at about the same pace. Patience, the film tells us. Lessons are never learned without effort. Suffer for a while, and then you will understand. At over 3 hours in length, patience is necessary. There is little action to distract from the lesson.
Being the last collaboration of Kurosawa and Toshiro Mifune, "Red Beard" is a masterpiece of acting and direction. Mifune commands attention. His character Red Beard is a powerful physician, ruling both peasant and lord. The black and white film is powerful, making full use of the director's skill.
Those who only know Kurosawa's Samurai films will have a difficult time with "Red Beard," I think. However, patience. The lesson is there. Relax. Enjoy. Learn.
Toshiro Mifune, of course, dominates the film in his role as the selfless physician who gives free medical care to the poor peasants and prostitutes who come to him for aid. At the same time, he charges handsomely for the medical advice he doles out to the rich landowners, using those profits to provide for those less fortunate. It's an uplifting film with a strong socialist agenda, but far too cloying for my tastes.
Still and all...it's Akira Kurosawa, and he's better than almost everyone, even when he misses the mark.
Here's where Kurosawa does his best. The scene where Chobo is dying and the maids are yelling down the well, the camera tilts down from the faces of the maids into the reflection of water at the bottom of the well, but gives the illusion that the camera has shifted to the bottom of the well looking up at the maids. With a single teardrop from Otoyo hitting the face of the water, then we realize that the camera is actually hidden above them. Genuine masterwork.
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