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The Lower Depths (1957) More at IMDbPro »Donzoko (original title)

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Release Date:
1 October 1957 (Japan) See more »
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. Full summary » | Add synopsis »
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(26 articles)
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User Reviews:
The positive functions of "useful lies" See more (28 total) »


  (in credits order) (complete, awaiting verification)

Toshirô Mifune ... Sutekichi the Thief

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 ... Tatsu
Eiko Miyoshi ... Asa, Tomekichi's Wife
Bokuzen Hidari ... Kahei the Pilgrim
Atsushi Watanabe ... Kuna
Kichijirô Ueda ... Shimazo the Police Agent
Yû Fujiki ... Unokichi
Fujitayama ... Tsugaru

Directed by
Akira Kurosawa 
Writing credits
(in alphabetical order)
Maxim Gorky  play "The Lower Depths"
Akira Kurosawa 
Hideo Oguni 

Produced by
Akira Kurosawa .... producer
Sôjirô Motoki .... associate producer
Tomoyuki Tanaka .... associate producer
Original Music by
Masaru Satô 
Cinematography by
Kazuo Yamasaki 
Film Editing by
Akira Kurosawa 
Production Design by
Yoshirô Muraki 
Costume Design by
Yoshiko Samejima 
Makeup Department
Yoshiko Matsumoto .... hair stylist
Junjirô Yamada .... hair stylist
Production Management
Hiroshi Nezu .... production supervisor
Second Unit Director or Assistant Director
Yoshimitsu Banno .... assistant director (as Yoshimitsu Sakano)
Toshi Kaneko .... assistant director
Yasuyoshi Tajitsu .... assistant director
Art Department
Kôichi Hamamura .... property master
Jun Sakuma .... assistant art director
Sound Department
Ichirô Minawa .... sound effects editor
Mimachi Norase .... chief sound assistant
Fumio Yanoguchi .... sound
Shoichi Yoshizawa .... sound assistant
Camera and Electrical Department
Masao Fukuda .... still photographer
Shigeru Mori .... lighting technician
Katsumi Murakami .... assistant lighting technician
Takao Saitô .... assistant camera
Editorial Department
Chozo Kobata .... negative cutter
Other crew
Mitsugu Narita .... production assistant
Teruyo Nogami .... script supervisor
Yûichi Yoshitake .... acting office
Georges Goldfayn .... french subtitles by (uncredited)
H.L. Govaers .... french subtitles by (uncredited)
Crew believed to be complete

Production CompaniesDistributorsOther Companies

Additional Details

Also Known As:
"Donzoko" - Japan (original title)
See more »
137 min | 125 min
Aspect Ratio:
1.37 : 1 See more »
Sound Mix:
Australia:M (2007) | Finland:K-3 (new rating: 2001) | Finland:S (until 2001) | UK:PG | USA:Not Rated | West Germany:16
Filming Locations:

Did You Know?

Finnish censorship certificate # 87030 delivered on 6-2-1979.See more »
Movie Connections:
Version of Na dne (1978)See more »


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7 out of 8 people found the following review useful.
The positive functions of "useful lies", 12 January 2006
Author: KFL from Bloomington, IN

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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