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Red Beard (Widescreen) [Subtitled] [Criterion Collection]

4.8 out of 5 stars 25 customer reviews

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Product Details

  • Actors: Toshirô Mifune, Yûzô Kayama, Tsutomu Yamazaki, Reiko Dan, Miyuki Kuwano
  • Directors: Akira Kurosawa
  • Writers: Akira Kurosawa, Ryûzô Kikushima, Hideo Oguni, Masato Ide, Shûgorô Yamamoto
  • Producers: Ryûzô 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: UNRATED
  • Studio: Criterion
  • Release Date: Oct. 1 2002
  • Run Time: 185 minutes
  • Average Customer Review: 4.8 out of 5 stars 25 customer reviews
  • ASIN: B000067IY6
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: #29,552 in DVD (See Top 100 in DVD)
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Product Description

Product Description

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.

Customer Reviews

4.8 out of 5 stars
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Top Customer Reviews

By A Customer on April 29 2004
Format: DVD
For those of you who don't know, Red Beard is without a doubt the last film of Kurosawa that is absolutely exceptional. Moreover, this film marks the end of many things for the director. First of all, this is the last movie where he works with Mifune. He spent nearly two years making this! It's understandable that they probably had their differences, which must have put quite a strain in their relationship. Red Beard is also Kurosawa's last black and white film. To most film fans of this genre, this is believed to also be his last film that shows so much emotion and complexity towards humans. One of the things I enjoyed most about this film was the cinematography. There are so many awesome scenes that Kurosawa films through wide lenses and long takes (Which I love). The musical score varies in emotion. This also has one of my favorite endings from a Kurosawa movie. While Seven Samurai had to be one of his best, this one was made after more than twenty years of experience from the most famous director in Japan, if not the world. In other words, Red Beard is the highest point of cinematic perfection for Akira Kurosawa.
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Format: DVD
In addition to being about the relationship between the young and old doctors, "Red Beard" is Kurosawa's can-opener for the Japanese psyche, with which he gently urges very private people everywhere to recognize how many hold deep hidden suffering inside them, which makes them ill, and the value of sharing those secrets.
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.
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Format: DVD
In my opinion, this is one of Akira Kurosawa's best films, which means it is automatically a classic of world cinema.
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.
Highly recommended.
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Format: DVD
"Red Beard" is a difficult film. Kurosawa had always sought to blend entertainment with social impact. Many of his films, such as "Yojimbo" and "The Seven Samurai" are so much fun to watch that the viewer rarely notes the message being told. With "Red Beard," the balance of message and entertainment shifts to a more heavy-handed social commentary. There is no mistaking what Kurosawa is saying.
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.
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