Combined the average ratings (Critic's & Users) from IMDb, Rotten Tomatoes, Metacritic and Letterboxd, and then weighted and tweaked the results…
High and Low
Intense and Highly Entertaining
An executive of a shoe company becomes a victim of extortion when his chauffeur's son is kidnapped and held for ransom.
Leave it to Kurosawa to make an hour of listing evidence and clues exciting.
High and Low is tight, tense, and engaging, but what makes it so great for me is that Kurosawa (based on the book King's Ransom by Ed McBain) uses an almost Dante-like structuring of the three points of view by which this story is told. Each act is a discrete and self-contained plot with its own beginning, middle, and end, which make High and Low more of a crime anthology than an epic. Still, all the main characters appear (physically or vocally) in all three stories, tying them together and leaving room for an epilogue which unites the circuitous narrative. In addition, the class-warfare analogies really…
I'm too sleepy to go into all the myriad reasons this is one of the greatest movies of all time. Kurosawa's filmmaking is so transcendent it seems weak to say it's "ahead of its time," and yet that's exactly what it is in scenes like the final one, with both characters being alternately seen through their reflections, sharing the same space, never really separate. The claustrophobic and almost unbearably tense first act, the incredibly immediate train sequence, the detailed and gripping investigation, the slow descent into the expressionistic and heartbreaking "hell" of the city's poor neighborhoods, the pink smoke...! I know he made more masterpieces than practically anybody else but why this isn't widely considered Kurosawa's best I haven't a clue.
Complicated history with this one, as the first time I saw it (at a tender age, shortly after starting NYU film school) I jumped to a completely false conclusion about what was going on, then proceeded to construct the foundation for my magnum opus The Ruse using the alternate version I'd imagined. Made it hard for me to see the film for what it is, obviously, and on top of that I think I was simply too green back then not to be thrown by the formal gambit of the slow descent—pretty sure I got all huffy about Mifune's apparent protagonist having been abandoned for what idiotically struck me as rote detective work. What can I say, I was…
Story : 8.8/10
Production : 8.3/10
Overall : 8.03/10
I find it extremely interesting that a film called High and Low (and one that so beautifully captures the symbolism behind those two words) would be filmed in such a unique aspect ratio. The choice to use 2.35 : 1 shows off a lot of things easily but none of them are high or low. Also, I haven't familiarized myself with this "Tohoscope" process yet but it certainly added an interesting element to the entire film.
Another thing I found engrossing was the way Akira Kurosawa switched his protagonists throughout the film. In the opening act we're seeing the world through the eyes of King Gondo, played wonderfully by…
Mind completely blown.
Never has a film further exceeded my expectations.
I fucking love this.
I bought this movie not even really knowing what it was about. All I knew for sure was that it was directed by Akira Kurosawa and it starred Toshirô Mifune and Tatsuya Nakadai. That is all I needed to know to want to own this movie even though it was apparent it had nothing to do with samurai.
The film itself amazed me. The way each scene is structured, framed and acted out I found incredible. There is no actor wasted at any given moment in this film. You can tell what each one is thinking, feeling or even what their social class is with no words spoken. It's not always by facial expression either, just by the way their sitting, standing or who they won't look directly at.
Simply put it's one of those great films everyone needs to see at least once. A film you just sit there and appreciate how each moment was put together.
I think this might be the best film I've ever seen
A superlative, ambiguous, claustrophobic first half is let down by turning into a competent, if tiresome police procedural.
It's the little touches that make this film as good as it is -- the way Kurosawa very subtly directs your attention to different areas of the frame, either through motion, prop placement, or character action. It's all done so naturally, almost as though he hardly had to even think about it.
As much as I love the films of Akira Kurosawa I admit that outside of Ikiru it is actually rather difficult to go ahead and pinpoint every last thing about his work that continues to reaffirm why I love spending time with cinema in the first place. High and Low was one that I found rather difficult to talk about on one viewing alone, and I would have thought on another visit it would be easier to pinpoint everything but instead it was actually a more difficult task as the thoughts kept shrouding my head as I was falling in love with the film even more. In fact, I've already grown to convince myself that alongside Ikiru, Seven Samurai, and…
"I have no time for lies. I want the truth!"
Kurosawa has crafted perhaps the greatest of all thrillers/police procedurals in the history of cinema. The renowned filmmaker splits the film into distinct but unified parts; the first half being the situational setup and family drama surrounding the impossible decision Toshiro Mifune’s character must consider and the back half follows the diligent pursuit of the kidnapper by the police, led by the savvy detective portrayed by acting legend, Tatsuya Nakadai. The film is awash with Kurosawa’s meticulous compositional detail and an incredible editing touch. It’s all done in perfect harmony in service of one of the best movies ever made.
A bit more atypically uneven than Kurosawa's normal fair, High And Low is still an emotionally palpable and tense crime thriller, with just enough added dramatic depth from its master filmmaker to make it stand out from the crowd.
Great procedural, my first time seeing Mifune in a more modern role and he was great. The direction was really strong especially during the tailing sequence. Some plot contrivances are really the only thing that bring this down a bit for me.
Great, complex conflict.
Kurosawa always reminds us of who the story affects most, even if they aren't in charge of its direction.
Scarce scoring. Didn't miss it. A rolling train is enough.
Like Caesar in design: First half builds to a climax. Second builds to a new climax from the aftermath.
Didn't mind the long police briefings. Felt like I was tracking the case with them, not waiting for them to solve it.
So many styles within one film, working together and creating variety.
Pink smoke on black and white film.
Junkie alley visuals.
Reflections in the glass. Final scene is fantastic.
The entire Criterion collection organized by spine number.
I don't know why I did this.
Number I've Seen: 196/776 (25%)