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Hakuchi (1951) More at IMDbPro »

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Release Date:
30 April 1963 (USA) See more »
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. Full summary » | Add synopsis »
User Reviews:
"Trading charms" See more (26 total) »


  (in credits order) (complete, awaiting verification)

Setsuko Hara ... Taeko Nasu

Masayuki Mori ... Kinji Kameda

Toshirô Mifune ... Denkichi Akama

Yoshiko Kuga ... Ayako

Takashi Shimura ... Ono, Ayako's father
Chieko Higashiyama ... Satoko, Ayako's mother
Eijirô Yanagi ... Tohata
Minoru Chiaki ... Mutsuo Kayama, the secretary
Noriko Sengoku ... Takako
Kuninori Kôdô ... Jumpei
Bokuzen Hidari ... Karube
Eiko Miyoshi ... Madame Kayama
Chiyoko Fumiya ... Noriko
Mitsuyo Akashi ... Madame Akama
Daisuke Inoue ... Kaoru
Jun Yokoyama
Atsumi Nakama
Kunio Miyogi
Shôichi Kotôda
Yôichi Ôsugi (as Yoichi Osugi)
Keiko Izumi
Haruko Chichibu

Directed by
Akira Kurosawa 
Writing credits
(in alphabetical order)
Fyodor Dostoevsky  novel "The Idiot"
Eijirô Hisaita 
Akira Kurosawa 

Produced by
Takashi Koide .... executive producer
Original Music by
Fumio Hayasaka 
Cinematography by
Toshio Ubukata 
Film Editing by
Akira Kurosawa 
Production Design by
Takashi Matsuyama 
Set Decoration by
Genzo Komiya (settings)
Shohei Sekine (settings)
Ushitarô Shimada 
Second Unit Director or Assistant Director
Yoshitarô Nomura .... chief assistant director
Sound Department
Yoshisaburo Imo .... sound
Camera and Electrical Department
Akio Tamura .... lighting technician
Editorial Department
Yoshi Sugihara .... assistant editor
Crew believed to be complete

Production CompaniesDistributors

Additional Details

Also Known As:
"The Idiot" - International (English title) (literal English title), USA (alternative title)
See more »
166 min | Japan:180 min (premiere) | Japan:265 min (extended version)
Aspect Ratio:
1.37 : 1 See more »
Sound Mix:
Filming Locations:

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 »
Movie Connections:
Version of "The Idiot" (1966)See more »
In the Hall of the Mountain KingSee more »


This FAQ is empty. Add the first question.
5 out of 7 people found the following review useful.
"Trading charms", 23 November 2010
Author: Steffi_P from Ruritania

Books are not like movies, but they have more similarities than at first meets the eye. Just as a novelist can focus us entirely on one object or one person, a film director can use the close-up for the same effect. Alternatively a director can use a long shot to describe a setting, or select angles to give us one characters point of view, all of which brings cinema closer to the novel than it does to a stage play, which cannot give us such controlled focus. And just as a good novel will make careful use of language to give tone or atmosphere, a good film will do the same with lighting, sound design, cutting and so forth. Probably the biggest difference however is one of overall structure. Whereas books are designed to be picked up and put down, digested over a period of time, a motion picture is supposed to be enjoyed in a single sitting, and as such must tell its story in a smooth and succinct manner. This is where Akira Kurosawa fell down in his ambitious line-for-line adaptation of Fyodor Dostoevsky's The Idiot.

Considered one scene at a time, the style in which The Idiot is filmed demonstrates how the shots and scenes of cinema can work like the sentences and paragraphs of a novel. Kurosawa uses a plain, direct approach, close to the action, with few props or elaborate backgrounds to distract from the people – just as Dostoevsky's words focus us on people and what they do rather than bothering with elaborate descriptions of places. He makes a lot of use of intensely emotional close-ups, just as a sentence or two in a book might be devoted entirely to depicting someone's reaction, without distracting us with whatever else may be going on in the room. What little business there is going on apart from the actors is generally minimalist and for purposes of mood, for example a light sprinkling of snow around Masayuki Mori as he looks at Setsuko Hara's picture, or the eerie chimes at the Akama residence.

It wasn't often during their period working together that Kurosawa would not cast Toshiro Mifune in the lead role. He would only cast someone else when it was really necessary, and this is one such case. It's hard to imagine the brash Mifune as the titular idiot, whereas Masayuki Mori is perfectly meek, doing everything with an acute look of sensitivity. The only trouble with Mori is that he isn't credible enough, and is little more than a caricature of self-effacing timidity. Female lead Setsuko Hara was a big star in Japan and will be familiar to Yasujiro Ozu fans. However I find her a little hammy here, and some of those grimaces she pulls look absurd. Mifune himself plays a supporting role, and although he plays quite a wild and exaggerated character, he does at least give the part an entertaining intensity. The other supporting roles are not bad either, with some calm and mannered turns from Takashi Shimura and Chieko Higashiyama.

While individual bits of Hakuchi may come close to the spirit of Dostoevsky's original, the problem lies in the bigger picture. Because Kurosawa's original literal adaptation of every portion of the novel ran for over four hours, it's clear some truncation was needed. However this is a process that should have begun while the movie was still in pre-production. As it is whole chunks of narrative have been removed, sometimes replaced by text, other times with inexplicable jump cuts. Rather than cutting down the number of sequences, the editing job seems to have pared each sequence down to its highlights. The picture is so stop-start, the neat flow of Kurosawa's images is spoiled. We don't really feel we get to know characters, and while the plot just about makes sense it seems incredibly fragile and disjointed. It's not that an abridged form of a novel is unacceptable for a motion picture, just that it has to be done in a way in which it still has continuity and meaning. Instead, this looks like a half-finished project, and yet at 166 minutes it is still long enough to be wearingly tedious. Ironically, the 265 minute full cut, while certainly being a bit of a strain on the old buttocks, would probably have moved far faster.

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Is this in fact the most tedious piece of cinema ever created? gecko246
The ending Gusnark
Knife and fork? killingentelletilti
265 minutes version yukiya
Where to find? idene
Playing on TCM March 10 doleman
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