Donzoko (The Lower Depths) (1957)




Critic Consensus: No consensus yet.

Donzoko (The Lower Depths) Photos

Movie Info

Japanese filmmaker Akira Kurosawa transferred the setting of Maxim Gorky's play The Lower Depths from Imperial Russia to his own country's Edo Period--which, like Gorky's 19th-century setting, was an era of great cultural advances, offset by the miseries of those who weren't in the aristocracy. Kurosawa's film concentrates on Toshiro Mifune, playing a crooked gambler who falls in love with the sister (Kyoko Kagawa) of his cruel landlady (Isuzu Yamada). Herself carrying a torch for Mifune, the landlady exacts a roundabout revenge by killing her own husband and pinning the blame on the gambler. As the landlady descends into madness, those whom she has treated wretchedly laugh at her plight. Originally titled Donzoko, The Lower Depths was renamed Les Bas-Fonds for its French release--the same title bestowed upon Jean Renoir's 1937 adaptation of the Gorky play. ~ Hal Erickson, Rovi
Art House & International , Drama
Directed By:
Written By:
In Theaters:
Criterion Collection


Toshiro Mifune
as Sutekichi the thief
Isuzu Yamada
as Osugi the Landlady
Kyoko Kagawa
as Okayo her sister
Bokuzen Hidari
as Kahei the priest
Ganjiro Nakamura
as Rokubei her husband
Koji Mitsui
as Yoshisaburo the gambler
Eiko Miyoshi
as Asa his wife
Akemi Negishi
as Osen the prostitute
Eijirô Tono
as Tomekichi the tinker
Kichijiro Ueda
as Police Agent
Minoru Chiaki
as The Ex-Samurai
Yu Fujiki
as Unokichi
Kamatari Fujiwara
as The Actor
Show More Cast

Critic Reviews for Donzoko (The Lower Depths)

All Critics (5) | Top Critics (1)

No excerpt available.

Full Review… | February 26, 2007
Entertainment Weekly
Top Critic

No excerpt available.

Full Review… | June 23, 2006
Time Out
Top Critic

This is the purpose of the picture, to make one suffer and sympathize with them. Kurosawa's darkly imagistic technique achieves this depressing aim.

Full Review… | September 9, 2005
New York Times
Top Critic

Bleak comedy about a virtual flophouse in Edo-period Japan based on Gorky's play. Top-flight ensemble performance.

Full Review… | September 2, 2010

No excerpt available.

November 3, 2005

No excerpt available.

September 25, 2005

Audience Reviews for Donzoko (The Lower Depths)

Kurosawa takes a Russian play and transwplants it in Edo-period Japan much like his "7 Samuai" got transplanted in the wild US west 2 become 'the magnificent seven"

Greg Wood
Greg Wood

Confusing at the beginning, but around the hour mark everything begins to make sense. It's a shame I have not read Maxim Gorky's story that this film is based off of, but I read that it is a faithful adaptation of the original material. This film is very dialogue driven and through language and words, morals and values of society are analyzed. Also very interesting because blunt truth-telling vs sugar coated lying are also explored in this film. Very dark and pessimistic, but also some funny moments between the drunks and layabouts in the film. Overall, it was a very strange and intriguing film, much like Kurosawa's earlier Russian adaptation The Idiot. This film had a unique setting and quirky characters, however, was hard to sit through at times. Competent performances and strong dialogue kept this movie from being rated any lower.


Super Reviewer

This is part of the criterion collection, a early Black and White from Japan, with English subtitles, Kind of boring at first but as it plays out you can't help but to stay with it, about a houseful of beggars and lower lower class and there daily lives, Its worth 2 stars

Bruce Bruce
Bruce Bruce

Super Reviewer

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