Wednesday, August 17, 2005


"You saw it already"

"No, I did not."

2/3 of the way through, I nudged Bratworse... "You awake?" No response. I mutter to myself, "Damn, she was right, I have seen this.

It turns out we were both right; I had only seen the second half of RedBeard by Akira Kurosawa before and therefore didn't recognize the first half.

Redbeard is one of Kurosawa's later films (his films start slowing down in the 60's and this was made in 1965). I'm much more familiar with his earlier work like Rashoman, Seven Samurai, Sanjuro, Yojimbo, Hidden Fortress.

It seems as if Redbeard was a throwaway movie for Kurosawa. From the gratuitous japanese bondage scene to the bludgeoning over the head with its character development, Redbeard just feels like different in intensity from his other movies.

It had very little character development for the main character - Redbeard, played by the incomparable Toshiro Mifune. Mostly, the young selfish man who learns to admire Redbeard, and the young ward who comes under his eventual care are the two characters who change over time, but the transition is heavy-handed and sudden.

As a story, it's fairly run-of-the-mill. Young arrogant doctor gets sent to study under the care of eccentric doctor and turns over new leaf by the end of the movie.

*SPOILER WARNING* However, despite the faults, Redbeard managed to make me sob through most of the 2nd half. The young ward Otoya befriends a "little rat" Chodo who is stealing rice from the clinic. After a while, Chodo and his family decide to eat rat poison to avoid shame. While Chodo's life hangs in the balance, Otoya and the rest of the kitchen help start yelling into a well to try and call back Otoya's soul... and well, I lost it. I was bawling.

All in all, Redbeard gets a 7 out of 10 rating. However, rating it on the Kurosawa scale, it only gets a 5 out of 10.



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