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.
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 --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.
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Top Customer Reviews
Again and again, the movie is about how hidden secrets make people sick, and how the old doctor can intuit the presence of these secrets and give patients some way to relieve them.
This may be considered the deep subtext of the film, beneath the coming-of-age drama that centers on the young doctor.
The film is beautiful, strikingly directed and acted, with moments that are amazing cadenzas of acting skill, where the director allows the actors to show how much they can make out of an emotion through their body-language.
It may also appear heavy-handed and obvious at times to Western viewers, who have had a hundred years of Freudian exploration of psychosomatic medicine. But if I understand the context, Kurosawa is asking many of his Japanese viewers to consider for the first time the enormous hidden harm caused by physical and sexual abuse, extreme poverty (and extreme wealth), some uses of traditional authority, patriarchial attitudes, the prideful identification with a dead aristocracy, government policies that punish the poor, broken and bruised hearts resulting from complicated and entangled relationships, resourcefully anti-social adaptations to oppression, and other dark shadows beneath the enameled glaze of contemporary Japanese complacency.
Forgive me if that sounds overstated. But watch for it just under the surface of the fllm, again and again, and increasingly as the film goes on.Read more ›
As way of introduction, I would personally say of myself that I am bit of a cynic- I certainly do not expect a movie to 'change my life'. Movies are meant as entertainment, and one shouldn't look for more than that in a flick.
In the case of this film, however, I have seen something on the screen which has changed my perspective on things. I was deeply touched by the message of compassion in this film; not compassion as merely ones duty, or the contemptuous compassion of pity, but compassion as way of life. Compassion as a way of confirming the value of life. This is a powerful message- and a message that lingers long after the film is finished.
It is inevitable that any story that attempts to convey a moral or an idea be a bit 'preachy' - the story will always find itself somewhat in service of the parable.
But, as noted above, this is a Kurosawa film. We are in the hands of a master storyteller here, and it shows in every frame, every scene and in every performance, especially that of Toshiro Mifune. Kurosawa once again uses Mifune as the glue to hold a film together, and he once again delivers. Every performance in here is a gem, many of them given by actors Kurosawa has favored in other films. But these are all but planets to Mifune's sun.
By any measure this is a great film. As with Seven Samurai, the length of the film is never felt to be excessive, as each moment of the movie is used to tell a compelling story. I feel fortunate that this film has finally been made available on DVD, where I will have the opportunity to enjoy it in years to come.
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.
Most recent customer reviews
I have little to add to the other reviews: it is simply a great film by a great film maker -- well worth seeing.Published on Aug. 13 2009 by William Roberts
Having recently seen "Red Beard" for the first time, I was taken by two things. First that Coppola's "White Dwarf" is a clear-cut remake of this film. Read morePublished on June 26 2004 by Steven C. Sick
As much as I'm a Mifune/Kurasawa fan I was concerned about the movie being three hours long when I saw the beginning. Read morePublished on March 15 2004
This is an Epic movie. It is the cure for the vanity of self indulgence. The love that is internalized will be returned.Published on Nov. 29 2003
This is the most beautiful movie; its more like a long dance. I was scanning the DVD slowly during a few scenes and was mesmerized by the movements. Read morePublished on Oct. 6 2003 by J. G. Hyde
This is simply the best film I've ever seen in my entire life. I've studied the films of Kurosawa Akira thoroughly and my opinion remains deeply rooted. Read morePublished on May 24 2003
I dare you people out there. Kurosawa's most inspiring work is one breathtaking 3 hour ride into the hearts and minds of clinical doctors that has still not been matched by any ER... Read morePublished on May 4 2003 by manicsounds
Not only is this Kurosawa's best, but My all time Favorite movie ever made!Published on Dec 11 2002 by Avid Brett Adams
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