7.5/10
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26 user 26 critic

Donzoko (1957)

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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(play), | 1 more credit »
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Airs Thu. Jun. 02, 7:45 AM on TCM

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5 wins. See more awards »
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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
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 ...
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

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

Plot Summary | Add Synopsis

Genres:

Drama

Certificate:

Not Rated | See all certifications »

Parents Guide:

 »
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Details

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Release Date:

1 October 1957 (Japan)  »

Also Known As:

The Lower Depths  »

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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

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

Connections

Version of Na dne (1952) See more »

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User Reviews

 
The positive functions of "useful lies"
12 January 2006 | by (Bloomington, IN) – See all my reviews

Having watched Kurosawa's retelling of Dostoyevsky's "The Idiot" a couple weeks ago, and come away feeling that one viewing was already a bit too much, I was not expecting much from this. After all, Gorky is generally regarded as a notch or three below Dostoyevsky.

But whereas "The Idiot" did not begin to mesh with a Japanese idiom, "The Lower Depths" fits in very well indeed. Much of the film involves the hopes, dreams, schemes and machinations of a handful of characters, all fixated on escaping the tenement and its soul-numbing poverty.

An enigmatic old man who appears one day and spends some time in the hovel has a salutary effect on several of the residents, merely by dint of a level of kindness and sympathy that any of us would take for granted. When he leaves, the spark of compassion he has kindled dies quickly. Yet before he arrives and after he has left, there nonetheless remains a minimal spirit of camaraderie. I have not read Gorky's novel, but the "depths" here may (be taken to) refer to this bare-minimum level of feeling for one's fellow paupers.

Running through the script is the theme of lies and (self-)deception, and how they can ease the bitter reality that society's outcasts must face every day. This above all works well here, for the Japanese themselves have a utilitarian (so to speak) view of truth and falsehoods. The hoary Japanese adage "uso mo houben", often rendered "a white lie can be expedient", could have been a tagline for this movie; for the alcoholic ex-actor and several others have little other than self-delusion to help them get through another day.

Kurosawa manages to inject a measure of droll comedy while keeping the grim facts unprettified, showing us how the luckless souls at the very bottom of society grasp at the slimmest of hopes and somehow manage (...or don't manage) to keep on going. Superb.


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