This is what happens when your car breaks down on a Sunday morning and you have nothing else to do…
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…
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…
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.
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.
Amazing all around. But... Memories of Murder still is better.
This review may contain spoilers. I can handle the truth.
"Your house looked like heaven, high up there. That's how I began to hate you. "
A stunning police thriller, Kurosawa's 1963 classic 'High and Low' presents a classic kidnapping tale with a twist. Gondo, (Toshiro Mifune) an executive at the National Shoe Company is having problems with his fellow executives at work. They are insisting that they should start making shoes at a lower cost (and therefore lower quality) while Gondo, having served 30 years with the company wants to continue to make quality shoes at a slightly higher price. They threaten to join forces in a coup to force him out of the company unless he complies with their directives. What they didn't realize is that Gondo had…
A tense Hitchcockian police procedural that maintains a strong social conscience and features subtle yet intelligent direction from Kurosawa. It's one of his best.
I'm in the midst of sort of a mini-Kurosawa marathon having watched The Bad Sleep Well yesterday. I can't believe it's taken me so long to break into Kurosawa's crime films. This was absolutely masterful filmmaking. The first half of the film plays out like a stage play on very few locations and filled with dialogue. In fact the real action doesn't kick up until the last 45 minutes or so, but the dialogue-heavy portion was my favorite part. Kurosawa brilliantly builds the tension shows his incredible talent. I really loved the music as well, and I wouldn't be surprised to hear a filmmaker like Tarantino say that this film was an inspiration for how he puts together his soundtracks. The use of more modern music instead of a score for much of the movie was very effective.
Kurosawa injects a myriad of emotional and moral complexities into his gripping plot and subtly nuanced characters here, making for one of the most intelligent and engrossing crime thrillers I've ever witnessed and one of the finest genre films to come from Japan, or world cinema as a whole. A remarkable, absorbing piece of entertainment and important masterwork that serves as one of the director's most interesting collaborations with actor Toshiro Mifune.
It's interesting to see a modern Kurosawa after seeing his Samurai films and Ikiru. Kurosawa does a fantastic job with this crime thriller, High and Low. It's interesting to see Kurosawa tackle a lot of extremely mature subjects. This is probably his darkest film besides Ikiru. Toshiro Mifune's performance is great as always and he plays this character with a grounded realism like he always does. He's officially become one of my favorite actors from the 1950s. The film had some great cinematography and blocking as expect for Kurosawa. Completely recommend this film to anyone wanting to get into Kurosawa. (But if you want to get into Kurosawa more and don't mind 3 hour films then please watch Seven Samurai.)
Good detail and an interesting ethical story that copes well with the tonal change.
I had a good time with High and Low which I wasn't really expecting. My limited experience of Kurosawa hasn't been great, the style has often been too exaggerated for me and the pacing a little slow. Getting the criticisms out the way first, characters speak to the audience a lot throughout in a hand-holding manner. The 'show don't tell' method gets ignored at too many points while characters explain something in the plot or with a character which the audience could probably work of for themselves. The kidnapped child's dad has essentially no role - loses realism and can be frustrating, he just cries and…
An enthralling tale of dampening morals in an increasingly amoral place. On top of being a well told crime story, "High and Low" is absolutely beautiful at times and hauntingly morose at others. "High and Low" is my favorite Akira Kurosawa film and will remain in my thoughts for many days to come.
The first 1012 films are from The 1,000 Greatest Films list, and maintain the original order. The films that follow…
We recently held the second edition of our 'top 100 films' poll at Super Champion Film Zone. The results are…