Red Beard (1965)
Red Beard (1965)
Critic Consensus: No consensus yet.
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Originally released in Japan as Akahige, Red Beard is, according to one chronicler of director Akira Kurosawa, "about humanity's struggle to modernize." Toshiro Mifune plays the head of a 19th-century Japanese public health clinic. Ambitious young medico Yuzo Kayama takes a job at the clinic, full of so-called progressive notions. While it's true that the clinic could use a more up-to-date approach, it's equally true that Kayama could benefit immensely from the example set by old "Red Beard" Kurosawa. The film's centerpiece is the sequence involving Kayama and a 12-year-old victim of sexual abuse. Brilliantly filling every second of its 185-minute running time, Red Beard was based on Akahige Shinryo Tan, a novel by Shugoro Yamamoto. … More
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as Dr. Kyoj˘ Niide
as Dr. Noboru Yasumoto
as Dr. Handayű Mori
as Mental Patient
as Tokubei Izumiya
as Genzo Tsugawa
as Masae's father
as Yasumoto's Mother
as Yasumoto's Father
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Critic Reviews for Red Beard
Kurosawa somehow manages to imbue every moment of this three-hour-plus movie with the transcendent vitality and intelligence of a great Victorian novel.
Akira Kurosawa's Red Beard is assembled with the complexity and depth of a good l9th-century novel, and it is a pleasure, in a time of stylishly fragmented films, to watch a director taking the time to fully develop his characters.
A banal, discursive and overlong Dr. Kildare-like soap opera, that's no better than General Hospital.
Audience Reviews for Red Beard
Japanese movie, Japanese actors, Japanese sets and locations, so why does this film feel as if were shot on the Warner Brothers backlot? Yet it does AND like they did it, say, in the late 40's or early 50's. An arrogant young doctor learns humility thanks to charismatic elder sawbones. There's a ton of subplots too, and minor characters, but all in all still engaging.
Akira Kurosawa's three-hour masterpiece follows young doctor Noboru Yasumoto as he is sent to work at a public health facility. He had been trained overseas and was expecting to be the private doctor of the shogun, and so he's unpleasantly surprised when he finds out what his new assignment is. The doctor who he's replacing seems especially cynical: "These people would be better off dead" he says of the empoverished patients. Not only is he cynical when it comes to the patients, he's also cynical of the hospital's overseer, "Red Beard" (Toshiro Mifune). The older doctor paints horror stories for the new young doctor of their boss with the red beard, and Yasumoto tries to get thrown out of his position by rebelling against the hardened Red Beard. Much like the film, Captains Courageous, Yasumoto soon learns his boss isn't really a monster, but a great and kind (if gruff) man, as he's shown how to truly help his fellow man. Red Beard unfolds like a great novel, it takes it's time in giving nuance and depth to the stories of the patients the doctors help. I was wondering how they'd work in a fight scene for Toshiro Mifune, what with him being a respectable doctor and all, but they somehow managed it. Mifune is undoubtedly one of the greatest actors of all time (note, I didnt' quantify it by saing "greatest Japanese actor", his appeal extends beyond national boundaries), and yet here he's probably playing one of his lesser roles (despite being the title character). It's a terrific ensemble cast. Kurosawa directs with his usual flair, but here there are some unique touches that really jump out at the viewer. Most noteably the strange lighting effect used in the scene with the little girl who's rescued from the brothel, as she's recouperating in bed. The way only her eyes are lit creates an eerie, creepy effect. Red Beard is a touching, poignant, comedy, drama, tear-jerker that runs the gamut of emotions. One of the best films ever.
"The pain and loneliness of death frighten me. But Dr. Niide looks at it differently. He looks into their hearts as well as their bodies."
Kurosawa does such a magnificent job of infusing the virtues of decency and humanity into the story that they almost become concrete, tangible characters. The fact that Red Beard is rarely, if ever, listed as one of Akira's cinematic milestones has me a little perplexed. Highly underrated.
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