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Donzoko (1957)

Not Rated  |   |  Drama  |  1 October 1957 (Japan)
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Ratings: 7.5/10 from 3,177 users  
Reviews: 26 user | 25 critic

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:
Isuzu Yamada ...
Osugi the Landlady
Kyôko Kagawa ...
Okayo, Osugi's Sister
Ganjirô Nakamura ...
Rokubei, Osugi's Husband
Minoru Chiaki ...
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


Una coppia di gretti usurai gestisce uno squallido dormitorio, nei pressi di una discarica. Una folla di larve e relitti umani affolla il locale: un ex attore alcolizzato; una prostituta; un fabbro che sragiona; disoccupati ed altri ancora. In tutti c'è la ricerca della fuga dalla loro miseranda esistenza, attraverso alcool, gioco, sogni. Arriva un giorno al dormitorio un vecchio e saggio pellegrino, che porta in tutti una nota di speranza con la sua filosofia e la sua umanità. Ma il sogno dura poco : lo sconforto torna ad impadronirsi di tutti, al punto da portare l'ex attore al suicidio e gli altri a ribellarsi ai due gestori. Ispirato ad un dramma di Gorkij, il film parla della parte sconfitta dell'umanità, dei vinti, dei falliti, dei rifiutati dalla società "civile". Written by rosebud6

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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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The entire film was shot mostly in sequence and was finished in about 4 weeks. See more »


Version of Nachtasyl (2005) See more »

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User Reviews

The Human Heart in the Depths
3 April 2006 | by (United States) – See all my reviews

It's one of Kurosawa's most neglected masterpieces. "The Lower Depths" takes us into a ravine tenement, run by greedy, brutal landlords, and inhabited by the lowest of society's strata. All action takes place in two locations: the interior of the tenement, or the tenement grounds.

How amazing, then, is the fascination this film exerts on us, with its very modest settings. I am astonished at the creativity of the film shooting these restricted spaces, in so many varied and telling ways: space expands and contracts as is necessary to the story: the outside is either threatening or an escape, but even once outside, we see that there is no escape, and diagonals show us the human dimensions of restricted choice. Space speaks volumes in the film, accompanied by the beauty of the ensemble acting, expressing profound truths.

We find ourselves engaged in the lives of these people, and puzzled over the character of Bokuzen Hidari as the pilgrim. Is he good? If he is good, and pacifies the dispossessed by acknowledging their illusions, does it mean that self-deception is good? What wonderful ensemble acting! The director put them through long, tough rehearsals, and the result is a seamless film. No wrong notes, no overacting, just a beautiful and strange film that haunts us after we've experienced it. Such invisible, great acting, and humor and pathos.

The character of the actor is the finest piece of work by the Kurosawa veteran Kamatari Fujiwara. It is amazing that this actor appears in such diverse roles as Matahichi in "The Hidden Fortress" and as a corrupt executive in "The Bad Sleep Well". What astonishing range and depth! How brilliantly Kurosawa uses the actor's range! And, of course, we have our beloved Toshiro Mifune, laughing, kicking up his heels in devilish delight, trying to impress the girl, pouting with the landlady, listening with suspicion, then respect to the pilgrim...doing so many things so well, we are bereft when he is absent for the film's conclusion.

And what a conclusion! The harsh clappers that end the movie, the frontal shot of the gambler as he addresses us (for the only time in the film) directly, and the sudden end! Gorky...Kurosawa, Bokuzen Hidari, Toshiro Mifune, Kamatari Fujiwara and the rest....they live on in this masterpiece, for which I am very grateful.

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