One of Kurosawa's least-seen films is "The Idiot". The film is set in Hokkaido, the northernmost area of Japan. Deep snow covers the earth, and is shoveled into barriers, seeps in through the ruins of a warehouse in great drifts, piles up against the windows in crescents, howls fiercely as Toshiro Mifune's character and Matsayuki Mori's "Prince Myishkin" step foot off a train into a blizzard.
Dostoevsky's great novel is the resource material.The Prince Myishkin character is Christ-like in the novel, and, as transplanted to Japan may be seen as a Boddhisatva-like character (an Avalokiteshvara or Kanon-a saint of compassion). Matsayuki Mori does an amazing job of portraying a damaged but compassionate soul..one that feels deeply the pain of those he encounters, and who speaks the truth simply, with a pure heart and an awareness of suffering. In one scene, he holds Toshiro Mifune's face between his small, gentle hands, and there is such a tender sensibility, his hands seem to communicate love and absorb the pain of Mifune's character. It is a breathtaking moment.
Toshiro Mifune is brilliantly cast as the thuggish suitor who vies with Mori for the soul of the beautiful and doomed Taeko Nasu character played with uncharacteristic drama by Setsuko Hara.
This complex, rich, layered, frightening, deeply disturbing film has been under-appreciated from the outset-beginning with the studio, which cut the film drastically (Kurosawa was outraged! *see trivia). Japanese audiences didn't understand or like the film, and other audiences have found it weird. Some of this relates directly to Donald Richie's seminal work on Kurosawa and his conclusion that "The Idiot" was a failure. Unfortunately, Richie's conclusion seems to have put replaced the nails in "The Idiot's" coffin with screws. It's very hard to pry open the film.
Sure, it is a weird film...that's what is so interesting. Kurosawa has made one of the most powerfully strange films, while stretching the range of his actors (have you ever imagined you would see Setsuko Hara like this? She's terrifying in her desperation and pain!) giving the scenes a grounded reality, and allowing us to enter into the lives of these tragic, doomed souls.
This is one of the finest films of world cinema, although one of the least-viewed.
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Kinji Kameda, a war veteran, was almost executed in a military process, that was until a last minute reprieve found him innocent of the charge. The resulting turmoil, spent in a VA hospital, led to him suffering mentally, he now clinically deemed an idiot. The military having declared him legally dead in the ensuing time makes him open to abuse by anyone who wants to take advantage of him. While outwardly he seems an odd man to most, some can see below the surface to his wisdom and humanity. With nothing, he heads to Sapporo where his only contact to the outside world, Mr. Ono, will help him get back on his feet. En route, he befriends Denkichi Akama, a proverbial redneck who knows a certain darkness hangs over him. Akama went away to earn enough money to marry Taeko Nasu, a woman of ill-repute having lived her entire life the kept woman of older wealthy Mr. Tohata. Taeko is now an inconvenience in Tohata's life, and as such he has offered a substantial dowry to any man willing to take her off his hands. The man stepping forward is Mr. Ono's associate, Mutsuo Kayama, who truly loves Ono's daughter, Ayako, a straight-forward woman not one to suffer fools. Kayama vows that he will still marry Ayako if she makes the simple request to him not to marry Taeko. Upon his arrival in Sapporo, Kameda begins to fall in love with Ayako himself, while on their chance meeting, a deep emotional bond forms, which some construe as the truest of love, between Kameda and Taeko in each understanding the other's sadness. That bond does not sit well with Akama, who is more prone to violence than to peace and happiness. This situation becomes more complex as some try to do what is best for him/herself, while others want what is best for others, this potent mix which may lead to tragic consequences.
Uploaded by: FREEMAN
November 15, 2022 at 07:49 PM