Hakuchi (1951)

 |  Drama  |  30 April 1963 (USA)
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A Japanese veteran, driven partially mad from the war, travels to the snowy island of Kameda where he soon enters a love triangle with his best friend and a disgraced woman.


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Cast overview, first billed only:
Taeko Nasu
Kinji Kameda
Denkichi Akama
Ono, Ayako's father
Chieko Higashiyama ...
Satoko, Ayako's mother
Eijirô Yanagi ...
Minoru Chiaki ...
Mutsuo Kayama, the secretary
Noriko Sengoku ...
Kokuten Kôdô ...
Bokuzen Hidari ...
Eiko Miyoshi ...
Madame Kayama
Chiyoko Fumiya ...
Mitsuyo Akashi ...
Madame Akama
Daisuke Inoue ...


Kameda, who has been in an asylum on Okinawa, travels to Hokkaido. There he becomes involved with two women, Taeko and Ayako. Taeko comes to love Kameda, but is loved in turn by Akama. When Akama realizes that he will never have Taeko, his thoughts turn to murder, and great tragedy ensues. Written by Jim Beaver <jumblejim@prodigy.net>

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Release Date:

30 April 1963 (USA)  »

Also Known As:

The Idiot  »

Filming Locations:

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Technical Specs


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Aspect Ratio:

1.37 : 1
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Did You Know?


Filmed as a two-part production running 265 minutes. Shochiku (the studio) told Akira Kurosawa that the film had to be cut in half, because it was too long; he told them, "In that case, better cut it lengthwise." The film was released truncated at 166 minutes. See more »


Mutsuo Kayama, the secretary: What could be so frightening about that idiot?
See more »


Version of Idiot (1910) See more »


In the Hall of the Mountain King
From "Peer Gynt Suite No. 1, Op. 46"
Music by Edvard Grieg
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User Reviews

Fragmentary masterpiece
22 May 2003 | by (New England) – See all my reviews

Currently clocking in at a mere 2.75 hours -- following the lopping off of 100 minutes from Kurosawa's (unreleased) original version -- this barely scratches the surface of the plot of Dostoevsky's tremendous novel. Kurosawa modernizes the story and moves it from Russia in summer to Hokkaido in winter. The great Russian director Grigori Kozintsev thought this film captured the spirit of the novel remarkably well -- and who am I to disagree. I seriously wonder whether someone unfamiliar with the novel could follow this film, in its currently disjointed state -- but for those who know and love Dostoevsky's story (and characters), this film is a delight and a revelation. By and large, the actors do a remarkable job of capturing the essence of Dostoevsky's cast. I simply cannot imagine a more suitable Rogozhin (Akama in the film) than Toshiro Mifune -- especially when watching him "merely" standing in the background looking like a bomb ready to explode. Next most convincing was Chieko Higashiyama as Satoko, Ayako's mother not Takeko's as IMDB incorrectly records (Elizaveta Prokofyevna Yepanchin in the novel). This "Edith Bunker as Russian noblewoman" character has always been one of my favorite Dostoevsky creations -- and CH gets every aspect of the character right. Setsuko Hara as Taeko (Natalia Fillipovna) and Yoshiko Kuga as Ayako (Aglaya Ivanovna) are wonderful, as is Takashi Shimura as Ono, Ayako's father (General Yepanchin). Masayuki Mori as Kameda (Prince Myshkin, the eponymous hero of the tale) is hard to assess -- as the "idiot" role is hard to envision. I am not certain that he is the perfect Myshkin, but he is certainly a touching one.

Interlinked with the extraordinarily fine acting, is Kurosawa's tremendous direction here (or what's left of it). I recently also saw an otherwise fine Russian version of "Crime and Punishment", which failed to capture the richness of tone of the novel, missing every trace of any sort of humor (an essential element of the book). Kurosawa, on the other hand, managed to ricochet from melodrama to humor to tragedy without missing a beat -- sometimes within the bounds of a single shot. Frankly, I never would have thought this possible. Another interesting facet of the direction here -- this often looked more like a silent film from the 20s or 30s than a film of the 50s.

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