Kameda, who has been in an asylum on Okinawa, travels to Hokkaido. There he becomes involved with two women, Taeko and Ayako. Taeko comes to love Kameda, but is loved in turn by Akama. When Akama realizes that he will never have Taeko, his thoughts turn to murder, and great tragedy ensues.Written by
Jim Beaver <firstname.lastname@example.org>
Akira Kurosawa in his autobiography describes this film - which was heavily edited from the director's original four-hour-and-twenty-six-minute version, by order of the studio, Shochiku - as "ruinous" to his career. Upon release, reviews of this film in the Japanese press were, according to Kurosawa, universally "scathing." ("It was as if [the reviews] were a mirror reflection of the studio's attitude toward me," he writes.) Not surprisingly, therefore, in the annual Kinema Junpo critics' poll for films released in 1951, The Idiot (1951) appears way down in the list, ranked at #18. Of all twenty five Japanese-language films that Kurosawa released from the end of the Second World War to the end of his career, this film is the only one that failed to place within the "Best Ten" list of films in the Kinema Junpo poll of its release year. In fact, it has been claimed that only the immense popularity of the film's star, Setsuko Hara, prevented the film from being a complete commercial disaster. See more »
I wonder if the original 265-minute version (see "trivia") will ever be released on DVD? It seems to me that out of respect for Mr. Kurosawa, arguably the greatest filmmaker who's ever lived, it should be done if at all possible. If only I were a billionaire...
I found the film very difficult to follow, probably in part because of the extensive cutting (which is obvious in a few places), but also because, to my shame, I've never read the Dostoevski novel, though I started on it many years ago.
But the film is worth watching, despite the considerable difficulties it may pose, if only for the extraordinary--I won't say acting, but perhaps PRESENCE will do--of Toshiro Mifune, and the very fine acting by virtually all the other cast members. And of course for the magnificent visual compositions by this unsurpassable master of film, Akira Kurosawa.
And perhaps most important: for the moral tone of the film. I reverence Kurosawa not only for his amazing skill, but above all for his moral preoccupation. Without being preachy, in film after film he reminds us of the things that are really important in our lives and in our relationships with others. Very few filmmakers seem, especially nowadays, to care about that. I believe Kurosawa was a master not only of film but of life itself.
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