Dr. Akagi (1999)


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Movie Info

Following up on his acclaimed and Cannes Grand Prix-winning Unagi, veteran iconoclast Shohei Imamura directs this gleefully ragged tale about one very dedicated, though defiantly eccentric, doctor during the waning days of the Second World War. Dr. Akagi (Akira Emoto) is a small-town physician who sports a prim white suit and straw hat as he runs at full gallop from one case to the next. His diagnosis is always the same no matter the symptom: hepatitis. Along the way, he enlists the help of a young lass named Sonoko (Kumiko Asou) whose mother is a prostitute. Before she leaves home, mom gives her this kernel of maternal wisdom: give your physical devotion away to only your true love, make everyone else pay. She decides that the lucky recipient will be Dr. Akagi. Unfortunately, he has little interest in anything other than finding a cure for hepatitis. One day he happens upon a bruised and battered Dutch soldier (Jacques Gamblin) who escaped from the local POW camp. Realizing that returning to the camp would spell death for the lanky escapee, the doctor hides him with the aid of drug-addled fellow doctor (Kotsuke Sera) and an alcoholic Buddhist priest (Juro Kara). In gratitude to Dr. Akagi's kind act, the Dutchman, a lens crafter in quieter times, helps to fashion him a microscope so that the doctor may look at the very hepatitis germ itself. This film was intended as Imamura's swansong, but in 2001 he came out of retirement to direct the surrealist romance Akai Hashi Noshitano Nurui Mizu. ~ Jonathan Crow, Rovi


Critic Reviews for Dr. Akagi

All Critics (18) | Top Critics (7)

Accomplished at expressing the complexities of human nature and emotions, Imamura has captured a sense of timelessness to the extent that we all but forget the time and place.

Feb 14, 2001 | Full Review…

Confirms for anyone who saw The Eel that here is one of world cinema's great humanists.

Jan 1, 2000 | Full Review…

As lively, irreverent, and bizarrely cheerful as any of Imamura's previous low-life sagas.

Jan 1, 2000

Imamura allows himself poetic touches, sparingly.

Jan 1, 2000 | Rating: 3/4 | Full Review…

[Imamura] leaves us with a sense of immersion in a Zeitgeist far from our own experience -- fascinating.

Jan 1, 2000

It does make [Imamura], in his mid-70's, arguably the youngest-hearted filmmaker in Japan.

Jan 1, 2000

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