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Akira Kurosawa's The Quiet Duel
Akira Kurosawa's The Quiet Duel
Actors: Toshir˘ Mifune, Takashi Shimura, Miki Sanjo, Kenjiro Uemura, Chieko Nakakita
Director: Akira Kurosawa
Genres: Indie & Art House, Drama
UR     2006     1hr 35min

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 sufferin...  more »


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Movie Details

Actors: Toshir˘ Mifune, Takashi Shimura, Miki Sanjo, Kenjiro Uemura, Chieko Nakakita
Director: Akira Kurosawa
Creators: S˘ichi Aisaka, Akira Kurosawa, Masanori Tsujii, Hisao Ichikawa, S˘jir˘ Motoki, Kazuo Kikuta, Senkichi Taniguchi
Genres: Indie & Art House, Drama
Sub-Genres: Indie & Art House, Love & Romance, Family Life
Studio: Bci / Eclipse
Format: DVD - Black and White - Subtitled
DVD Release Date: 09/19/2006
Original Release Date: 11/30/1949
Theatrical Release Date: 11/30/1949
Release Year: 2006
Run Time: 1hr 35min
Screens: Black and White
Number of Discs: 1
SwapaDVD Credits: 1
Total Copies: 0
Members Wishing: 11
MPAA Rating: Unrated
Languages: Japanese
Subtitles: English

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Movie Reviews

BCI Does It Again
Robert H. Knox | Brentwood, NH United States | 01/03/2007
(4 out of 5 stars)

"BCI are quickly becoming one of the best sources for offbeat Japanese films. THE QUIET DUEL was the only film directed by Akira Kurosawa with music by Akira Ifukube (Godzilla). Until this DVD release, it was also the only Kurosawa title that I did not have in some form, and I'm pleased to report that, while not in the league of IKIRU or SEVEN SAMURAI, THE QUIET DUEL is still well worth seeing, and a must for all devotees of the great Toshiro Mifune. He is fine in this early role as a medical doctor who makes a tragic error. Also on hand is Kurosawa regular Takashi Shimura, who was so memorable in IKIRU. Altough this film is far from the director's best, even lesser Kurosawa is eminently recommendable, and the many fans of Maestro Ifukube will certainly want to check this out. The picture quality is fine, no problems with the disc, packaging is outstanding and the price is about half of what Criterion would ask...Thank you, BCI!"
Flawed Early Kurosawa as Film School
Samurai Girl | Michigan | 01/18/2007
(5 out of 5 stars)

"The Quiet Duel has many of the Kurosawan hallmarks: conflicted characters, a character that learns and changes and grows (in this case, it is the female nurse who grows most dramatically)and our favorites: Takeshi Shimura and Toshiro Mifune!
Flawed, sure. And, my respects to the composer, but the "mutual multiplier effect" (Kurosawa's term for it) of the extra-diagetic with the, 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!"
Delicate dilemna
Randy Keehn | Williston, ND United States | 08/09/2008
(3 out of 5 stars)

"I begin with a disclaimer; I'm sure I would never have heard of, let alone seen, "The Quiet Duel" if it hadn't been an early Akira Kurosawa movie. This movie would very likely never been made available in English sub-titles nor probably been on any late-night Japanese TV station. However, the fame of its' director legitimately made this a movie worth seeing. Let me restate that; The skill of its' director made this a movie worth viewing 60+ years after it was made.

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."
Doctor vs. Disease; Hero vs. Himself
Zack Davisson | Seattle, WA, USA | 06/11/2008
(5 out of 5 stars)

"I have often heard of "The Quiet Duel" as one of the lesser of Kurosawa's films, that there was something about it that just didn't quite work. Surely, it is not of the same caliber as Seven Samurai or Ikiru, but after seeing it, and finding out what an excellent film it is, I think its reputation is undeserved.

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.