Thursday 17 November 2011

High and Low [1963]

Though not a samurai film per se, the kind of movies Japanese maestro Akira Kurosawa is most renowned for, his High and Low essentially propounded similar themes of courage, heroism and high tragedy. Adapted from the novel King’s Ransom by Ed McBain, this police procedural was made in the tradition of a film noir, but with enough cultural detailing thrown in to make it a quintessentially Japanese movie. The plot concerns Gondo (powerfully performed by Toshiro Mifune), a wealthy corporate honcho whose chauffeur’s son gets kidnapped mistakenly (the kidnapper's intent was to abduct Gondo's son), and he ends up putting his professional and even personal life at stake by agreeing to a hefty ransom demand. The first half of the movie deals with the debilitating emotional dilemma faced by Goldo, while the second details the massive manhunt launched by the cops. The sharp black-and-white photography and the sparsely used soundtrack did a fine job at complementing the ambiguity of the characters and the psychological nature of the plot. Despite the potent socio-cultural commentary and detailed deconstruction of the crime investigation, the movie dragged a bit at times – resulting in flagging of interest in the middle sections. Further, the final denouement, by being too fatalistic, didn’t leave too lasting an impression. Interestingly, this was remade into a Hindi movie released in 1978 called Inkaar, which too was a reasonably good police procedural.

Director: Akira Kurosawa
Genre: Urban Drama/
Crime Thriller/Police Thriller/Post-Noir
Language: Japanese
Country: Japan


Unknown said...

I brilliant picture. I enjoyed the first half more than the second, but the city atmosphere was really well done, and that scene in the police station was excellent.

Shubhajit said...

Lot of people tend to dislike the first half because of its "static" & indoor nature, but like you, I too preferred the 1st half more. And yes, the exceptionally detailed investigation too. Thanks for stopping by.