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Brian D

Red Beard

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Brian D   

Nominated for the Waking Up list.

I think this film is one scene short of greatness.   That is to say, it needed exactly one scene LESS. The scene in which the older doctor acts like a samurai warrior. :)  Any arguments as to why I should be convinced to take that scene seriously?  It does help a lot that the movie has such a busy stew of characters...not just this one figure upon whom the whole film rests.

This film does gather a head of steam by film's end, equal parts charm and power.  I like the fact that some compare this to a Dickens novel, complete with large canvas and a handful of orphans.  It is indeed expansive and multifaceted in a novelistic way.

I am quite fascinated by how the well scene near the end of this film relates to "waking up" and the thread of this that we can see running through the film. 

And the whole Sahachi flashback sequence is a brilliant sub-film unto itself.

Edited by Brian D

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Andrew   

I don't know that I want to fully defend that scene, as it is certainly over the top.  But I can see why Kurosawa included it, as it shows that Niide is quite capable of reacting violently to try and right the world, yet regrets doing so and has chosen a path of healing instead.  I imagine this was an especially relevant point of view for a society that had recently been perceived as an extension of the military for over 10 years.

IIRC, Kurosawa was especially inspired by Dostoevsky's The Insulted and the Injured in writing this script.  

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Brian D   

Ah, that's a helpful way to see it.  Niide has the ability to choose physical violence as his means of righting the world, but instead chooses the path of medicine and healing.  Perhaps he chose being a doctor as his vocation in order to overcome a natural/inbred tendency toward violence.

I'm intrigued by the link to Dostoevsky.  I know Kurosawa also filmed his own version of The Idiot.  Is there any good writing out there about Kurosawa's links to Dostoevsky on a career level? On a level beyond these individual examples of adaptations?

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Andrew   

I think Stephen Prince - in probably the best English language book on Kurosawa's career, The Warrior's Camera - considers this connection the most substantially of any writer I've seen.  I don't recall coming across any articles or chapters that consider this issue specifically when I wrote my chapter on Kurosawa for the book Ken Morefield edited several years ago.  And scanning the index of Prince's book, he name-checks Dostoevsky nearly 20 times.

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