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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

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 ...
Tatsu
Eiko Miyoshi ...
Asa, Tomekichi's Wife
Bokuzen Hidari ...
Kahei the Pilgrim
Atsushi Watanabe ...
Kuna
Kichijirô Ueda ...
Shimazo the Police Agent
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Storyline

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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Drama

Certificate:

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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Trivia

Akira Kurosawa: [weather] In Kurosawa's films, heavy wind is usually used to convey the atmosphere of emotional chaos and disorder, which is why the wind is heard all throughout the film. After the plot's climax, there's a long rainy scene with a somber mood. See more »

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Version of The Lower Depths (1936) See more »

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User Reviews

 
Very underrated Kurosawa masterpiece
18 December 2003 | by (Chapel Hill, NC, USA) – See all my reviews

LOWER DEPTHS perhaps isn't the place to start if you're completely unfamiliar with Kurosawa - but it still ranks as one of his great films, and definitely one of his most underrated.

Based on a Maxim Gorky play (an earlier Jean Renoir film draws upon the same source material), LOWER DEPTHS seems a bit stagey at first, but Kurosawa manages to enliven it considerably - the performances are all top-notch, and the combination of skillful editing (straight cuts only here, but the usual Kurosawa multi-camera shooting method) and inventive set design (with diagonals and angles trapping characters, heighetning the intensity of the dialogue and acting) making this an unforgettable film to watch - easily as accomplished as the better known THRONE OF BLOOD from a little earlier. One will definitely note how tightly constructed - in all ways - this film is.

This film does (along with IKIRU, RED BEARD and HIGH & LOW) illuminate some of Kurosawa's underlying philosophies, specifically a sense of social realism in cinema that can cast a critical gaze upon injustice, and in this film a sense of anger and frustration is articulated with an unusual degree of eloquence, testament to both Kurosawa's technical virtuosity, and his greater awareness of the world.

But for all of the cruelty on display here, there's an equal amount of humor, typically irreverent and loaded with sly social commentary, but also spontaneous: the two impromptu musical episodes, which blend Japanese theatrical conventions with a Chaplin-like sense of visual choreography to very striking effect.

Not as well known as SEVEN SAMURAI, THRONE OF BLOOD or YOJIMBO, but just as accomplished - filled with delight and insight.


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