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The Idiot (1951) by Akiro Kurasawa is a wonderful piece of cinematography showing the perfect and fresh adaptation of Dostoevsky â" the classical Russian drama which comes here with the Japanese features. Dostoevsky has been Kurosawa's favourite writer throughout his life. Making a movie based on his greatest novel appeared to be one of the pivotal moments of Kurosawa's career. It was not well received in Japan upon release which is understandable. Comparing The Idiot with other Japanese movies of the 1950-s it seems to be very foreign to the Japanese. Moreover, it might make no sense for those who don't know the original novel. Perhaps this is also a reason to explain why the movie is not famous in the Occidental world. However, from my point of view it is a great adaptation with Masayuki Mori, Setsuko Hara and Toshiro Mifune who understood their Dostoevsky's characters very well. We can see it is still Dostoevsky, though everything in the movie lives in a Japanese dimension. Calling it fully Japanese would be far-fetched, though. It's Russian-Japanese environment of philosophy, theatre and cinema. And I can't forget to mention one of the most beautiful Japanese actresses Yoshiko Kuga portraying Ayako-Aglaya. She had stolen my heart! Yoshiko Kuga and Masayuki More are frequent screen collaborators, and all their joint works are always romantic. Idiot is certainly the best collaboration of them. Also, Toshiro's Mifune temperament and emotions are perfect to show the personality of Akama-Rogozhin. Kurosava's Idiot is just fantastic!
Very, very strange. The melodrama is too much but there are very quietly beautiful scenes that draw you in. One of the only kurosawa films that i'M just not sure what to think given its toRturing demand for highly theatrical performances anD longwinded narrative.
I'm glad this film is as long as it is, because it needs time to collect itself; admittedly, I'm utterly confused for at least an hour as to what's going on, who's who, who she's been fucking, etc. But the complexity of the confusing circumstances, something of a love quintangle at least, makes it all the more entertaining. Who is Nasu? Why is she so desired? There are more attractive women around, like Ayako - what's all the fuss over Nasu?
The casting of Masayuki Mori as Kameda is the whole show, his face tells us a thousand stories the instant we see him, and will have this effect for the rest of the film. Kurosawa is keen on this, anticipating the face reveal by having Akama's (Mifune) leg cover his lips and nose, a foreshadow of the role he will play in Kameda's life. It is also Kameda's eyes which play a key role in affecting the other characters, welling up feelings and thoughts they'd otherwise suppress. They see a man walking with constant truth, and as Kameda has stared death in the face, we believe that nobody can quite understand what he does.
The scene between Kameda and Akama in Akama's home is brilliantly written and staged. Deeper and deeper Akama leads him into his home, we know he's jealous of the effect Kameda has on Nasu, we sense the danger Kameda may be walking into. Through the scene, Akama is self-conflicted with his desire to both kill and like Kameda; it's interesting to remember Akama was the first person in the movie to sympathize with Kameda's PTSD. The scene is gradual with character shifts, Akama warming up to Kameda's friendly smile. They drink, have pleasant conversation aside from Nasu. Then Kameda becomes enamored with a butcher's knife, which worries Akama. Eventually Kameda has to leave, but they get stuck talking about charms they keep on them, Kameda's the more valuable - a rock taken from the scene of his near-death experience - while Akama's is more forced, an amulet his mother made him carry; they make an exchange. Then they have tea and food with Akama's mother, settling deeper into friendly warmth. But there's something off putting in all this, how his mother seems to be in another world, and he mistreats her. I cant quite explain the effect this part has on me as the camera pushes in on mother's spaced out smiling face with what sounds like a child's music box laying over the image, perhaps a creepy sadness in the idea of mother and son stuck together like this. Finally, as they're about to part, Nasu comes up again, and Akama begins to lose himself, conflictedly telling Kameda to have her. In the silent montage that follows, Akama stalks him before finally revealing himself and trying to murder him with the butcher's knife. But Kameda is revered for his brutal honesty, and he doesn't act like a proud prick accepting death, or fighting back, but all Akama sees is a scared child mercifully screaming for life, and he can't bring himself to harm him. The movie at this point has me gripped, and finds a fitting fade out to end the first part. We're asking: whose Nasu going to end up with? And is anyone going to end up with Ayako?
The film comes full circle, ending as confusingly as it began, and isolating the two characters who opened the story: Kameda and Akama. Kurosawa had brilliantly foreshadowed the symbol of intrigue between them at the onset of the film, their images reflected against a glass encasement of her photograph as they compared their views of her; Kameda's sympathetic, Akama's cold. Now she is the death of them, but it's not exactly clear how. Her devotion to Kameda has turned Akama into her killer. It causes Ayako to flee under Nasu's threat. Kameda's empathic powers have evolved telepathically, he feels Akama looking for him, and they find each other. What follows is a carefully staged scene of slowly unraveling madness, lit in a dark cold room. Akama looks away into nothingness and sees things, clouds and rainbows. The way Kameda walks behind the patterned glass with a lamp, casting a reflection onto Akama... or the light shining through Nasu's room divider as they go to look at her dead body, and the pattern it casts on them. What's crazier is that Kameda, this symbol of empathy throughout, extends this as far as not even being angry that Kamada has killed Nasu, proving his feelings for her were less about passion and more understanding. She would've killed for him, but not him for her. His need to empathize carries him to his own death, questioning Akama about how he did it, then inexplicably falling to his death.
A beautiful but fragmented classic from Japanese Cinema Powerhouse Akira Kurosawa based on the famous Russian Novel The Idiot by Fyodor Dostoevsky.
It's a shame the film was cut down so severely & it is evident in the film. The story of a man affected heavily by the after affects of war & labeled by many in his society an 'Idiot'.
It's so beautiful & lyrical how he interacts & touches people lives with his genuine love & simplicity & often is misunderstood & attacked. A film with tremendous depth & film that stays with you, be great to one day see the 4 hour version instead of 2.75 hour version that only survives today.
i think year s/b 1951 not 1963
This is a difficult film to review. Dostoyevsky is Kurosawa's favorite writer and it appears he was too adherent to the novel, but is that such a bad thing? Ultimately, what dooms the film is that Kurosawa made a 4.5 hour film and the studio (without Kurosawa) edited it down to 166 M, with the result that it often just doesn't make sense. It's a shame because the main character, the so-called Idiot seems to be the sanest and most beautiful person in the entire film. The so-called sane ones are the ones behaving insanely and that's what dooms the main character. I haven't read the novel but i assume it's the same situation there. It's a film that should have been easy to love.
I loved it. great story. great acting. great texture. its pacing is a bit off/slow at times and the music is abrupt. I felt it captured a bit of the old FD for me though - that crazy, uneasy feeling of being excited and terrified all at once, with moral, social, and relational questions looming all around.
About 20 minutes in, it gets really good! A Shakespeare-worthy tragedy based on Dostoyevsky.
Mori is just awful. I found his performance actively irritating for most of the film, and watching his stupid face and his stupid hands hovering around his stupid neck made this a difficult two and a half hours to get through. This movie has a <i>lot</i> of problems, and probably shouldn't have been attempted in the first place, but it's made watchable by the amazing Setsuko Hara and Yoshiko Kuga. Without the striking presence of these two (and Mifune) this would have been a total waste.
every time i watch a setsuko hara movie i lose my shit. she is just too incredible. that aside, this has got to be my favorite kurosawa film besides rashomon. and despite studio intervention, which chopped nearly and hour and forty-five minutes out of this, it glistens with brilliant use of set pieces, beautiful and dramatic cinematography, utterly flawless art direction, brave and emotional writing, and three of the absolute best actors of the time (mifune, hara & shimura).