Red Beard


Red Beard (1965)



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Movie Info

In 1820, young Noboru Yasumoto (Yuzo Kayama) completes his medical education in Nagasaki and returns to his native Edo hoping both to marry the daughter of a wealthy man and to achieve affluence himself through his medical practice. He happens to visit the famed Koishikawa clinic for the indigent, which is run by the autocratic Dr. Kyojo Niide (Toshiro Mifune), better known as Red Beard. To his intense displeasure, he soon finds himself assigned to the clinic for his internship. At first, the young intern is arrogant and rebellious, intent on displaying his knowledge of medical innovations and contemptuous of the older doctor for spending his life among the poor. But as time passes, he gains an intimate knowledge of the kind of suffering that is endemic to the impoverished, and at length, becomes an acolyte of this seemingly dictatorial physician, who heals his patients with gentleness and humility as much as with his medical skill.


Toshiro Mifune
as Dr. Kyojô Niide
Yuzo Kayama
as Dr. Noboru Yasumoto
Yoshio Tsuchiya
as Dr. Handayû Mori
Reiko Dan
as Osuki
Kyoko Kagawa
as Mental Patient
Takashi Shimura
as Tokubei Izumiya
Eijirô Tono
as Goheiji
Tatsuyoshi Ebara
as Genzo Tsugawa
Ken Mitsuda
as Masae's father
Kinuyo Tanaka
as Yasumoto's Mother
Chishu Ryu
as Yasumoto's Father
Koji Mitsui
as Heikichi
View All

Critic Reviews for Red Beard

All Critics (13) | Top Critics (3)

Kurosawa somehow manages to imbue every moment of this three-hour-plus movie with the transcendent vitality and intelligence of a great Victorian novel.

Jun 1, 2015 | Full Review…

Akira Kurosawa's Red Beard is assembled with the complexity and depth of a good 19th-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.

Oct 23, 2004 | Rating: 4/4 | Full Review…

A mature work that merits the term most apply to it: Dostoyevskian.

Jan 1, 2000 | Full Review…

A banal, discursive and overlong Dr. Kildare-like soap opera, that's no better than General Hospital.

Aug 19, 2012 | Rating: C+ | Full Review…

Something for everyone. A masterpiece, and with Kurosawa that's really saying something.

Apr 23, 2010 | Rating: 93/100

The final collaboration between director Akira Kurosawa and Japanese icon Toshiro Mifune is one of Kurosawa's most ambitious, personal, and heartfelt films.

Jun 20, 2009 | Full Review…

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.

Kevin M. Williams
Kevin M. Williams

Super Reviewer

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.

Devon Bott
Devon Bott

Super Reviewer

"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.

Randy Tippy
Randy Tippy

Super Reviewer


An ambitious and arrogant young intern finds himself in a rural clinic for the poor against his wishes, but soon finds there is more to life than wealth and status under the tutelage of a severe but kind-hearted doctor. Red Beard is almost Dickensian. in it's melding of period drama and social commentary, all told with a decidedly left wing slant. The Siu clinic is a fledgling "welfare state", where treatment is free to the needy, and Kurosawa takes great pains to illustrate that a man's worth is not the sum of his material possessions. The film is structured into a series of short stories centering around different patients, each with a tragic event in their past. The finest example is the final story of Ting, a young girl suffering abuse at the hands of a brothel's madam who slowly learns that there are good people in the world, after being rescued in a great scene in which Red Beard ably hands out the injuries he later heals! It's VERY long and rather short on action compared to his samurai films, but it's also a genuinely touching, heartwarming and good natured tale that is Kurosawa at his most human.

xGary Xx
xGary Xx

Super Reviewer

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