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The Lower Depths (1957)

Donzoko (original title)
Not Rated | | Drama | 1 October 1957 (Japan)
In a Japanese slum, various residents play out their lives, dreaming of better things or settling for their lot. Among them is a man who pines for a young woman but is stymied by her deceptive family.



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Cast overview, first billed only:
Osugi the Landlady
Kyôko Kagawa ...
Okayo, Osugi's Sister
Ganjirô Nakamura ...
Rokubei, Osugi's Husband
Tonosama - the former Samurai
Kamatari Fujiwara ...
The Actor
Akemi Negishi ...
Osen the Prostitute
Nijiko Kiyokawa ...
Otaki the Candy-Seller
Kôji Mitsui ...
Yoshisaburo the Gambler
Eijirô Tôno ...
Tomekichi the Tinker
Haruo Tanaka ...
Eiko Miyoshi ...
Asa, Tomekichi's Wife
Bokuzen Hidari ...
Kahei the Pilgrim
Atsushi Watanabe ...
Kichijirô Ueda ...
Shimazo the Police Agent


In medieval Japan, aging Rokubei, his younger wife of four years Osugi and her uncle run a tenement complex at the bottom of a cliff, the complex which from the naked eye at the top of the cliff looks like nothing more than a rubbish heap. The tenants are a group of down-and-outers with some who operate on the far side of the law. Nonetheless, the tenants are close knit community in wallowing in their collective misery, those who care who know their lives will never get better as long as they stay there. The landlords have no compassion for the tenants, they mockingly only stating that the tenants will be given a favorable standing in a future life for any good deeds done around the tenement. The recent arrival of Kahei, a mysterious elderly man, affectionately referred to as Grandpa, who spins tales of the unknown, provides at least hope that there is a better life out there somewhere. Sutekichi, a thief who arguably is the leader among the tenants, and Osugi are carrying on an ... Written by Huggo

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Not Rated | See all certifications »

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Release Date:

1 October 1957 (Japan)  »

Also Known As:

The Lower Depths  »

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Aspect Ratio:

1.37 : 1
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Did You Know?


The entire set was built at a 75 degree angle, making the housing structure look dilapidated and in disrepair. See more »


Featured in The 62nd Annual Academy Awards (1990) See more »

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User Reviews

The Poetics of Decadence
10 February 2006 | by (Nowhere) – See all my reviews

"Donzoko" does not rank among Akira Kurosawa's finest films, but that doesn't mean it should be dismissed, considering the quality of his body of work.

Not many films have explored the moral decadence of humanity in face of poverty such as "Donzoko". It reminds us of how most humans are, deep down, only worried about themselves and their own worldy pleasures.

The inclusion of the "Old Man" gives the film an almost Buddhist insight into the situation of the slum, which helps painting its extremely intriguing - even if limited - canvas.


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