I Wish I Had More Stars to Award Kurosawa-sama
Rev. E. A. Hernandez | 03/17/2010
(5 out of 5 stars)
""What has politics done to help? Has a law been passed to get rid of poverty and ignorance?!"
These are the central lines, spoken by Toshiro Mifune as Dr. Niide, a/k/a Dr. "Red Beard", in this finest classic film of all time--without doubt, Kurosawa's finest work. Forget "Ran" and even "Seven Samurai".
Dr. Niide runs a large clinic, which one should rightly call a sanatorium or hospital. Heavily laden with patients and extraordinarily short on doctors, Kurosawa immediately immerses us into the world of 19th century Japan at its poorest. Dr. Niide--called "Red Beard" due to his large red beard and the fact that his surname "is difficult to pronounce", struggles gruffly to right all the wrongs around him.
Red Beard is a swashbuckling role...I never thought I'd see a film with a swashbuckling doctor who is also reminiscent of Mother Teresa...yet he is gruff, terse and sometimes a bit pissed off at the world. One of the most thrilling scenes of this film shows what happens to thugs when they get in Dr. Red Beard's way. This man is cooler than Dr. Who and kicks ass better than Dr. No.
Into Dr. Red Beard's clinic comes the arrogant young doctor, fresh from the big time and resentful as hell that he has to work in this seeming hell-on-earth. He has to endure Red Beard ignoring him, some incompetent but well-meaning colleagues, and horrendous living conditions that represent only the tip of the One That Sunk the Titanic. This brash young cynic will soon learn his lessons well, and that is the beauty of this Greatest Film Ever Made, my official professional opinion.
It is not true there's no humor in this film: it is one of the funniest Kurosawa ever made, but the humor is subtle and deep--one has to have lived somewhat to find the humor, right where Kurosawa intends us to find it. Never in my life did a film make me chuckle and weep simultaneously: THIS one did, and you will, too.
Kurosawa took over two years to make this film. He built a town using genuine 100-year-old building materials and details. The costumery, which is so vital to Japanese period films, was aged for months to give it a proper, natural look. Kurosawa did everything right. As to that, doctors at this time in Japan under such conditions wore 'uniforms', similar to a martial arts school uniform, so everyone could see the person wearing it was a physician. One is struck by the fact that these men are almost literally monks, wearing "habits" that will identify their calling.
Mifune would never work with Kurosawa again after this remarkable, unequalled film; mainly because he didn't like Kurosawa taking two years to do one movie. The Japanese long ago mastered the art of getting directors to churn out many films per year. Kurosawa took his time, and it always shows.
There is no question this is history's greatest film. Furthermore (if I may insert this here) stick with Criterion's DVD of this film. If you hate film, hate Japanese film, hate life, need answers, or simply want a good 3-hour cinema experience...THIS FILM YOU MUST SEE AND OWN. Kurosawa once said his films asked a simple question: Why can't people be happier?
I guarantee it: you will be happier once you've seen this movie."
Richard Pence | 12/26/2009
(5 out of 5 stars)
"This version of Red Beard is the best one by far.
There is a bootleg copy of this DVD going around that I got sucked into,
and bought.I thought I was just getting a real good deal over the internet,
but I got stung.
The bootleg version sub titles are way off,and the video isn't very good either.
It comes out of China and exept for the title, only has Chinese writting on the cover.
This version ,that says Criterion Collection is what you want to get.
The video is clear and the subtitle translation is spot on!
The movie itself is more of a statement on "the human condition",more than the tipical Mifune "action"genre.
Like other great actors, and directors ,they have all there freinds in the movie again.If youve seen 7 Samurai,Yojimbo,and Sanjuro ,you'll recognize all the co-stars. There is one fight seen however(after all its a Mifune flick)thats great!!
But this movie is a Drama,and if you know that going in, you'll enjoy it very much.