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The Idiot (1951)

Hakuchi (original title)
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

Cast overview, first billed only:
...
Taeko Nasu
...
...
Denkichi Akama
...
Ayako
...
Ono, Ayako's father
Chieko Higashiyama ...
Satoko, Ayako's mother
Eijirô Yanagi ...
Tohata
...
Mutsuo Kayama, the secretary
Noriko Sengoku ...
Takako
...
Jumpei
...
Karube
Eiko Miyoshi ...
Madame Kayama
Chiyoko Fumiya ...
Noriko
Mitsuyo Akashi ...
Madame Akama
Daisuke Inoue ...
Kaoru
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Storyline

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>

Plot Summary | Add Synopsis

Genres:

Drama | Romance

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Details

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Release Date:

30 April 1963 (USA)  »

Also Known As:

The Idiot  »

Filming Locations:


Company Credits

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Technical Specs

Runtime:

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Aspect Ratio:

1.37 : 1
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Did You Know?

Trivia

Akira Kurosawa in his autobiography describes this film - which was heavily edited from the director's original four-hour-and-twenty-six-minute version, by order of the studio, Shochiku - as "ruinous" to his career. Upon release, reviews of this film in the Japanese press were, according to Kurosawa, universally "scathing." ("It was as if [the reviews] were a mirror reflection of the studio's attitude toward me," he writes.) Not surprisingly, therefore, in the annual Kinema Junpo critics' poll for films released in 1951, The Idiot (1951) appears way down in the list, ranked at #18. Of all twenty five Japanese-language films that Kurosawa released from the end of the Second World War to the end of his career, this film is the only one that failed to place within the "Best Ten" list of films in the Kinema Junpo poll of its release year. In fact, it has been claimed that only the immense popularity of the film's star, Setsuko Hara, prevented the film from being a complete commercial disaster. See more »

Quotes

Ayako: Do you have any idea what sort of person Mr. Kameda is?
Taeko Nasu: I certainly do. I daresay I know far better than you.
Ayako: That's a lie! You couldn't possibly know.
Taeko Nasu: Why not?
Ayako: Why not? Because you only ever think of yourself. Drunk on your own misery, you don't see the grief you cause in others.
See more »

Connections

Version of Návrat idiota (1999) See more »

Soundtracks

Lady of Spain
(uncredited)
Music by Tolchard Evans
Heard in the café that Kameda visits on the day he wanders in the snow
See more »

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User Reviews

 
A beautiful series of set pieces
1 May 2002 | by (Scottsdale, AZ) – See all my reviews

Masayuki Mori, the slain husband from Roshomon, is fantastic as Kameda, a pure and simple, yet insightful, man who remains mentally frail after recovering from a breakdown. The film chronicles his relationships with two very different women, both in love with him, and with the volatile and violent Akama, a perfect part for Toshiro Mifune. Prior to reading the novel, I found the plot disjointed and difficult to follow. I think this film is best appreciated as a series of set pieces. The interaction among the players in each scene is completely absorbing as Kameda, through his passivity and selflessness, elicits a whole range of emotions from the rest of the cast. Minoru Chiaki, the woodchopper samurai from Seven Samurai, has a small but absolutely riveting role.

The 2003 Russian miniseries by Vladimire Bortko, at nearly 10 hours, captures far more of Dostoyevski's novel than does this film. However, somehow, Kurosawa has been able to capture the essence of the novel. It's a shame that over an hour was cut from the film and is now lost.

Setsuko Hara is tremendous as the "Natassya" character from the novel and Chieko Higashiyama as the "Lizaveta" character. Both are regulars from Ozu films but its unusual to find them together in Kurosawa.

If you have read the novel, you won't have any trouble following the story, even though it has been transposed from czarist Russia to Post-WW II Japan. If you don't know the story, just enjoy the incredible acting and direction of Kurosawa.


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