Red Beard (1965)
"Akahige" (original title)

Not Rated  |   |  Drama  |  19 December 1968 (USA)
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Ratings: 8.3/10 from 10,724 users  
Reviews: 60 user | 46 critic

In 19th century Japan, a rough tempered yet charitable town doctor trains a young intern.



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Nominated for 1 Golden Globe. Another 10 wins & 1 nomination. See more awards »
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Cast overview, first billed only:
Dr. Kyojô Niide
Yûzô Kayama ...
Dr. Noboru Yasumoto
Tsutomu Yamazaki ...
Reiko Dan ...
Miyuki Kuwano ...
Kyôko Kagawa ...
Tatsuyoshi Ehara ...
Genzô Tsugawa
Terumi Niki ...
Akemi Negishi ...
Okuni, the mistress
Yoshitaka Zushi ...
Yoshio Tsuchiya ...
Dr. Handayû Mori
Eijirô Tôno ...
Tokubei Izumiya
Mr. Yasumoto
Haruko Sugimura ...
Kin, the madam


In a charity hospital, a hard-bitten but honorable older doctor, Dr. Niide, takes a young intern under his guidance through the course of a number of difficult cases. Written by Jim Beaver <>

Plot Summary | Plot Synopsis

Plot Keywords:

clinic | intern | doctor | japan | japanese | See All (27) »




Not Rated | See all certifications »

Parents Guide:





Release Date:

19 December 1968 (USA)  »

Also Known As:

Barbarroja  »

Filming Locations:

Company Credits

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Technical Specs


Sound Mix:

Aspect Ratio:

2.35 : 1
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Did You Know?


Filmmaker John Sayles chose "Red Beard" as his favorite film in an AFI survey. See more »


At the brothel where young Otoyo is being rescued: when Red Beard (Toshiro Mifune) prepares to step out of the brothel opening to confront the thugs gathered outside, from the inside camera view, right before he steps through the door flap, there are a couple of thugs standing just right outside the opening. But from the outside shot, which shows Red Beard stepping out, the nearby thugs have changed position, and are now standing much farther away from the opening. See more »


Genzo Tsugawa: It's really terrible here. Being here makes you wonder why you wanted to be a doctor.
Dr. Noboru Yasumoto: [Suddenly noticing an unpleasant odor] It smells like rotten fruit.
Genzo Tsugawa: It's the smell of the poor.
See more »

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User Reviews

Towards enlightenment
9 February 2003 | by (United Kingdom) – See all my reviews

"Red Beard" is the noble conclusion to Kurosawa's monochrome period which undoubtedly contained his finest work. Although there were beautifully choreographed action scenes still to come in "Kagemusha" and "Ran", nothing was quite the same after this quiet meditation on the stirrings of humanity in a dark and otherwise uncaring world. The period is early 19th century, the place a hospital for the socially impoverished run by a doctor who manages to combine idealism and pragmatism, the two essential ingredients needed to facilitate the emergence of enlightenment. Although the great Toshiro Mifune dominates the film as the hospital head, it is the effect of his presence on the young doctor who pays him a visit that is the main theme of the narrative. Yasumoto, selfish and ambitious, has no intention to begin with of devoting his services to the hospital but one by one his defences collapse as he learns from the example of an idealist who has shed all vestiges of selfishness. There are constant reminders that medicine was at a rudimentary stage in its development and of the dedication needed by pioneers at a time when most answers still remained unknown and everything was largely a matter of easing rather than curing. I would not claim that "Red Beard" is among Kurosawa's half dozen greatest works. At just over three hours it sprawls in a discursive way. A lengthy flashback of a dying patient's reasons for seeking a form of absolution rather impedes the narrative flow in spite of some impressive visuals of snowscapes and an earthquake. But then the structure of the whole film rather has the episodic quality of a soap opera where momentum is maintained by proceeding from one crisis to another. Nevertheless it is full of wonderfully contrasted sequences from the knockabout humour of Mifune applying his medical skills to warding off a group of assailants by breaking their limbs like matchsticks to the tender scene of the young doctor being nursed back from sickness by the girl rescued from enslavement in a brothel. And then there is the rain. Where would a Kurosawa film be without those torrential downpours to remind us of the physical discomfiture that a journey towards enlightenment entails.

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