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aka - Akahige
Japan 1965
Directed by
Akira Kurosawa
185 minutes
Rated PG

Reviewed by
Bernard Hemingway
3 stars

Red Beard

From its title one might expect this to be another of Kurosawa's samurai films, however it belongs with the moral/social conscience strand of the director's work, manifested in films such as To LIve (1952) and Drunken Angel (1948).

The film tells the story of an ambitious and arrogant young doctor (Yuzo Kayama) who finds his true mission in life thanks to the unorthodox but Zen-like wisdom of slum doctor, Red Beard (Toshiro Mifune in his last collaboration with the director as Drunken Angel had been his first), it is both an often impressive film and unnecessarily long. For my money the first half would count amongst the director's best work in this vein, the stunning visual moments of the second 90 minutes, notwithstanding, Whilst this half recalls 19th century realist literature in its illustration of the desperate lot of the poor (despite an incongruous bit of samurai action) it adds nothing to the film's essential message of moral awakening.




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