High and Low

High and Low

天国と地獄 (Tengoku to Jigoku)

Friday, October 18, 2013

High and Low © 1963 Toho Co., Ltd. All rights reserved.


Introduction by Kyoko Hirano, curator of the series and former Director of Japan Society's Film Program.

Donald Richie on High and Low: "A morality play in the form of an exciting thriller. A self-made man (Mifune) is ruined by a jealous nobody (Yamazaki in his first important screen role) but goes on to do the right thing and in the end the camera observes more similarities than differences between the two. With a memorable mid-film climax on a high-speed bullet-train."

Akira Kurosawa's dynamic yet humanist films became immortal thanks to Richie's definitive book The Films of Akira Kurosawa (University of California Press, 1965; revised in 1984), in which Richie discusses Kurosawa's powerful cinematic styles and his ethical concerns. In High and Low, Kurosawa highlights the desperate efforts of a shoe magnate and the police who are trying to retrieve a kidnapped child. At the same time, he contemplates the class differences between the wealthy executive's lifestyle "high" on a hill and the slums located "below," where the kidnapper rages with anger. The film is based on Ed McBain's novel King's Ransom.

Followed by a reception.

1963, 143 min., 35mm, B&W, in Japanese with English subtitles. Directed by Akira Kurosawa. With Toshiro Mifune, Kyoko Kagawa, Tatsuya Nakadai, Isao Kimura, Tsutomu Yamazaki, Tatsuya Mihashi.

Part of Richie's Fantastic Five: A Tribute to Donald Richie (1924-2013), Part 1


$12/$9 Japan Society members, seniors and students

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