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 »
[Kameda's cries in his sleep wakes himself up and others on the train, including Denkichi Akama]
That was some scream.
Forgive me. I was dreaming.
Dreaming? Sounded like you were being murdered.
I was - about to be shot. It's a recurring nightmare of mine. You see, I was convicted as a war criminal.
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Before watching this film, I read the 700 page novel. Obviously, Mr. Kurosawa had to omit characters and even chapters, but he has made a coherent, wonderful and even a little disturbing film about obsession. Kameda (Masayuli Mori) is given a reprieve from being shot by the Americans in Okinawa post war (a good context to begin this film, the book is set in Russia in the 1850's) and goes to relatives in Hokkaido. He sees a portrait of Taeko Nasu (Ms. Hara) and is just struck by it. He meets her and though she was about to give her answer to one man regarding marriage, she asks Kameda, a veritable stranger whom she feels knows her, to make the decision and he says no. She runs off with Akama (Mr. Mifune) and Kameda follows. Also in the mix is the young, very pretty Ayako (Yoshiko Kuga), who may instead be be throed to Kameda. The choices have to be made, but bear in mind Kameda is still beguiled by Taeko. The acting, with many actors you've seen before or since in films of the period from Japan, are all uniformly good, but no one holds a torch to Setsuko Hara's Taeko. Her role is all about expressions and emotions, and she is absolutely perfect. You see her anguish, her foreboding, her sarcasm in every scene. The beautiful Ms. Hara is just amazing in this role, as she was in so many others. If you are ambitious, read the book first and you'll see what a great job Mr. Kurosawa did in adapting and directing this film. Without reading the book, I don't think you'll like it as much but it will definitely hold your interest. Lastly, the term "The Idiot" is more about Kameda having fits (somewhat like epilepsy), not being weak of mind. One of Kurosawa's best, Setsuko Hara is phenomenal and it is an excellent adaptation to the classic novel.
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