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 Post subject: 159 Red Beard
PostPosted: Sat Feb 05, 2005 1:13 pm 
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Red Beard

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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.

Disc Features

- New high-definition digital transfer, with restored image and sound and enhanced for widescreen televisions
- Audio commentary by Kurosawa film scholar Stephen Prince
- Notes by Japanese film historian Donald Richie
- Original theatrical trailer
- Optimal image quality: RSDL dual-layer edition

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PostPosted: Sat Feb 05, 2005 2:07 pm 
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hammock wrote:
Finally got to see this more than 3 hour long movie of excellence. Very emotional and Mifune as a doctor!? Can't wait to continue with Akira flix, next one is Hidden Fortess!

Red Beard is great. I love the scene where Mifune is set upon by a band of thugs, is surrounded in the street- and proceeds to kick the shit out of each and every one of them. It was great to see a little Yojimbo work its way into the film. And the Hidden Fortress is spectacular, a relentless chase movie with some cool action sequences. You are in for a treat, my friend.


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PostPosted: Sun Feb 06, 2005 5:35 am 
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That scene actually reminded me of an old Bud Spencer movie...!!! Except Mifune was feeling terrible after he broke all kinds of bones in the whores friends. It was rather funny and I don't recall ever seeing Mifune in this kind of scene before.


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PostPosted: Mon Feb 07, 2005 3:14 pm 
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The windchime sequence is one of my favorite bits of film. I often just throw the disc in to watch and rewatch it. I also really like the well scene, it chokes me up pretty good. The commentary track for this film is excellent.


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PostPosted: Sat Apr 16, 2005 12:18 pm 
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I just watched this for the second time and it really impacted me emotionally. This has to be one of Kurosawa's greatest masterpieces. The 2nd half, in particular, was very effective in showing Otoyo's development as a human being. It's so easy to relate to her sudden bursting into tears after she drops the bowl she just bought and Yasumoto is apologizing to her. And again after she becomes close to Chobo (who did a GREAT job for a child actor, I thought), and runs to scream into the well.

I think this film also has some of the best use of music in a Kurosawa film. It's sparsely used, but is very effective when it does come in. The main theme is very nice, and it's even kind of sweet and naive sounding that the strings are playing just a little out of tune; it gives it a kind of folk music quality. The direction, sets, and cinematography were also all great, of course.

For me, "Red Beard" is a great synthesis of themes from several of his other films; such as the tribulations of the poor ("The Lower Depths"), man's need to do something unselfish for the good of his fellow man ("Ikiru"), and it includes a great little fight scene. I may have just been in a receptive mood today, but I loved it (much more than the first time I watched it).


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PostPosted: Sat Apr 16, 2005 2:45 pm 
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If I would have seen "Red Beard" 30-some years ago, instead of "Rashomon", it would have changed my life (at least my cinematic life). Because I saw "Rashomon" long ago, I ignored Asian films for three decades. If I had seen "Red Beard" then, I can't imagine that I wouldn't have loved it -- and I wouldn't have to work so hard to make up for lost time. ;~}


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PostPosted: Sat Apr 16, 2005 4:37 pm 

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Out of curiosity: why did Rashomon put you off and what difference do you think veiwing Red Beard would have made?


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PostPosted: Sat Apr 16, 2005 9:12 pm 
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jcelwin wrote:
Out of curiosity: why did Rashomon put you off and what difference do you think veiwing Red Beard would have made?

I was wondering this too. I introduced Kurosawa's films to a friend recently. I lent her some dvds. She watched Ikiru first, and loved it. Then Seven Samurai, and the same reaction. Next she watched Rashomon, and did not enjoy it at all. She found it overly sexist, and was bored by the style of storytelling.

Can you please elaborate Michael?


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PostPosted: Sat Apr 16, 2005 9:17 pm 
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Whatever it was, he must have really hated it to write off all Asian cinema for 30 years!

Still, I guess Asian cinema's had its revenge.


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PostPosted: Sat Apr 16, 2005 10:53 pm 
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Rashomon has some of my favorite performers -- and yet I hate the over-the-top performances in it. I would guess that this was what irritated me so much. (I must have assumed that this was the norm for Japanese cinema -- since everyone raved about the film so much).


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PostPosted: Sat Apr 16, 2005 11:11 pm 
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yeah, I remember being really overly annoyed when I saw RASHOMON at all the endless overemotive handwringing. "Oh, no! People sometimes don't tell the truth! The world is such a terrible place!"

That said, RED BEARD didn't really blow me away either, and was actually the film that convinced me not to be a Kurosawa completist. I don't even really recall it all that well, I just remember Mifune grunting a lot. But all this praise has left me wanting to revisit it. But my copy's a hemisphere away. Urgh.


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PostPosted: Sun Apr 17, 2005 1:15 am 

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Personally...this is my favorite movie ever. It's got all the classic elements of storytelling, and I think of all of his movies, it really shows Kurosawa's brilliance as both a director and storyteller. It really was the first time I sat through a 3 hour movie and was like "wait...it's over ALREADY? that was 3 hours?"

And how can anyone with a heart not swell up a little bit when they start to yell in the well? c'mon!


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PostPosted: Sun Apr 17, 2005 8:39 am 
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I watched this movie for the first time today, and I can say that I was blown away. One of the most life-affirming movies I've ever seen. Enjoyed it thoroughly.


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PostPosted: Mon Apr 18, 2005 5:03 am 
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BrightEyes23 wrote:
And how can anyone with a heart not swell up a little bit when they start to yell in the well? c'mon!

And the solitary teardrop :cry:


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PostPosted: Mon Apr 18, 2005 6:47 am 
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Michael Kerpan, are you a doctor yourself? Because that would explain a lot...


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PostPosted: Mon Apr 18, 2005 7:12 am 
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Annie Malle, I actually sort of agree with Mr. Kerpan, in that I think Rashomon is the Kurosawa film I have least liked also. It didn't cost me 30 years of no Kurosawa though :O


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PostPosted: Mon Apr 18, 2005 10:03 am 
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Annie Mall wrote:
Michael Kerpan, are you a doctor yourself? Because that would explain a lot...

What would being a doctor explain?


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PostPosted: Mon Apr 18, 2005 10:36 am 
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The Invunche wrote:
Annie Mall wrote:
Michael Kerpan, are you a doctor yourself? Because that would explain a lot...

What would being a doctor explain?

Red Beard is about doctors. Apparently, the logic in this statement is that doctors automatically like movies about doctors more than movies concerning other professions. Hence doctors probably also enjoy Extreme Measures and Patch Adams.


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PostPosted: Mon Apr 18, 2005 11:00 am 
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Yeah that's pretty much what I thought.

EDIT: Despite having a script that could have been adapted from a Danielle Steel novel, this is my favorite title in the collection. What a fantastic movie.

And I'm not a doctor.


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PostPosted: Mon Apr 18, 2005 12:21 pm 
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Actually -- not a doctor -- but member of another profession -- often thought to be a bit at odds with doctors. I _avoid_ movies about MY profession as a general rule -- though I did enjoy "Awaara" quite a bit. ;~}

Quote:
And the solitary teardrop

Not solitary, in my case.


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PostPosted: Mon Apr 18, 2005 1:18 pm 
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Andre Jurieu wrote:
The Invunche wrote:
Annie Mall wrote:
Michael Kerpan, are you a doctor yourself? Because that would explain a lot...

What would being a doctor explain?

Red Beard is about doctors. Apparently, the logic in this statement is that doctors automatically like movies about doctors more than movies concerning other professions. Hence doctors probably also enjoy Extreme Measures and Patch Adams.

As a doctor, I can say that I'm probably more inclined to dislike/avoid films & TV shows with medical themes (the execrable Patch Adams being at the very bottom of the list*). Red Beard reminded me of a Japanese take on Marcus Welby, MD (or vice-versa, since Welby debuted in 1969). Like most of Kurosawa's movies, I find it too long by half. Otherwise, I enjoy the film, but wouldn't place it in the same class as my favorites: The Hidden Fortress, Yojimbo, Ikiru, and--yes--Rashomon.

*I find that most medical dramas are marred by either cheap sentiment, tacky melodrama, or laughably unbelievable plotlines, and they ignore the undercurrent of dark humor and cynicism which permeate the profession. For TV series, I'll take St. Elsewhere or von Trier's Riget I & II anyday over E.R., M*A*S*H, Chicago Hope, or Quincy, M.E..


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PostPosted: Mon Apr 18, 2005 1:34 pm 
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Quote:
I enjoy the film, but wouldn't place it in the same class as my favorites: The Hidden Fortress, Yojimbo, Ikiru, and--yes--Rashomon.

You and I clearly like different Kurosawas. I dislike "Hidden Fotress" (except for a few scenes) -- as well as "Rashomon" (and even more "Ran"). And I am no more than moderately enthused by "Ikiru". On the other hand, I like "Red Beard" best -- followed by "Lower Depths" and "Idiot" and "Stray Dog" (and the best parts of "No Regrets").

I see "Red Beard" as essentially two separate (but closely linked) films. At a slightly earlier period, these would probably have been released separately (premiering a week apart) -- like Tadashi's high profile "Blue Mountains" at the end of the 40s.


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PostPosted: Mon Apr 18, 2005 3:21 pm 
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Michael Kerpan wrote:
I _avoid_ movies about MY profession as a general rule -- though I did enjoy "Awaara" quite a bit.

You're a murderous derelict, Michael? Can't say that I would have guessed that one, but to each his own!

After all, this is coming from a name-brand bathroom cleanser...

-Toilet Dcuk


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PostPosted: Tue Aug 23, 2005 6:36 am 
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I've been thinking about this film and rewatched it last night (I felt the need to rewatch it after seeing Flowers of St Francis). I really like this film a lot, but I think I can see the reason why others do not particularly like it. The plot is basically showing a series of misunderstandings of others by the characters, and all the ways in which a persons character or motivations can be missed (in a sense after all the talk of Rashomon that film is perhaps a good companion piece about the way that someones actions can have different meanings depending on the way that another person viewing those actions perceives the intent behind them).

There is misunderstanding either as part of a concious plot (the Mantis while springing her trap), a blindness to the true nature of others actions through pride or anger (such as that Yasumoto shows at the beginning of the film, ready to believe Tsuyama's character assassination of the clinic and Red Beard without finding out the nature of life there for himself), underestimation (of the Mantis's madness, of Otoyo by the 'chorus' of cooks), preconception based on appearance, class and status, age, etc and misinformation (such as the misleading picture Tsuyama intially paints to Yasumoto).

All of the characters except Red Beard make wrong judgments, and I think this is perhaps the reason for the distance from Mifune's character in the film, he doesn't trouble himself with gossip and lets others work things out for themselves without feeling the need to impose his own views on them. So he lets Yasumoto break the rules as a kind of learning curve (because forcing him into following the rules would most likely just create more friction) so that hopefully he will come around to the way of life at the clinic (and it is this allowance for people to come around to things in their own time that is one of the great parts of the film for me), and if he still does not find things to his liking (as with Tsuyama) it would probably be best for him to move on.

So apart from Red Beard all the other characters make wrong judgments of others, but are usually very soon confronted with the reality of the other persons character, either through having it pointed out to them, by having a revelation, by recounting their story (e.g. Sahachi) or by stumbling across the truth in, say, the meeting between Otoyo and Chobo.

In this sense I can see why people might not like it as many of the characters seem very perceptive or empathetic of others and live in an environment where most people seem to understand others motivations for their actions, or at least are given the opportunity to understand the actions of others. It seems that in reality first impressions often stick and are difficult to change and that there are a lot more issues that come up when people realise that they might have the wrong impression such as embarassment or anger that might make it more difficult to immediately change their views as this film makes out. But I think it is a very optimistic film because of that, suggesting another level of communal understanding that Rashomon seemed to suggest could not exist if everyones concept of 'truth' was different. Perhaps this film was taking a different approach in showing how, as well as forming their own opinions, individuals use other people to form or modify their opinions about others (for example, by seeing Otoyo's goodness through her kindness to Chobo).

The film is perhaps naive in the message that people will get the wrong end of the stick sometimes, but that good deeds and people will sooner or later be recognised as such, but it also has a strong message about not jumping to conclusions and making your mind up too quickly about people based only on their actions (such as throwing away a kimono, or trying to break all the rules) rather than understanding the motivation behind them, or based on the way a person looks or their status.

It has become one of my favourite uplifting films with a nice message of trying not to worry too much about how people perceive you but instead trying more to empathise more with others.


Last edited by colinr0380 on Tue Aug 23, 2005 9:06 am, edited 6 times in total.

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PostPosted: Tue Aug 23, 2005 8:39 am 
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Great assessment Colin. You have articulated some ideas that might explain why this is my favorite Kurosawa film (and one of my favorite films overall).


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