Combined the average ratings (Critic's & Users) from IMDb, Rotten Tomatoes, Metacritic and Letterboxd, and then weighted and tweaked the results…
High and Low
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…
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…
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…
Mind completely blown.
Never has a film further exceeded my expectations.
I fucking love this.
I was quite excited to see this film, given the love for it from trusted friends, but when I realized that it was a crime film, and very much a police procedural, my heart sank a little. I love those types of films, but there are so many of them and I am so used to them that I couldn't imagine being blown away by one, even if it was from Kurosawa.
Remind me never to underestimate the Master again.
He tells the very simple story of a kidnapping.
If that's all you want, you are going to get one of the best police procedurals including one of the best scenes ever filmed where detectives provide their updates on the…
Like a one set play for the first act. The haves and have nots. The house above the hill looking down on everyone else.
More accurately translated as "Heaven and Hell." We see the Hell those below live in.
While there is a certain sympathy of course for those living in Hell or "below." Kurosawa wisely shows the rich man, Gondo, as someone who earned everything he has. While the kidnapper might be in some sense a victim, it is the fact he has accepted himself as a victim that makes him a loser.
Kurosawa is truly a master of film. His editing, pacing, shot composition, use of mise-en-scene, etc. are all just top notch here. The way the perspective changes from Mr. Gondo to the detectives to the kidnapper kept things fresh and interesting thanks to not only due to the change in focus on certain characters, but also the change in scenery. Gondo's stylish, white, idealistic home (High, Heaven) is contrasted by the darkness, murkiness, and business of the kidnapper's world (Low, Hell). I don't really know what to say that hasn't already been said; this film is superb and one of Kurosawa's greatest achievements.
Week 3: Master of the East
Challenge: Watch an unseen film directed by Akira Kurosawa.
I actually did watch this during the correct week, but it took almost a week before I had time to sit down and write out even basic thoughts on it! Japanese film is troublesome for me, and I often have trouble with even the most well-known and accessible films, like those from Kurosawa. That said, more exposure is definitely helping, and I've really been looking forward to High and Low, which was my first non-samurai Kurosawa film.
Maybe this is the direction I need to go,…
I finally found Kurosawa's best film, and the first time I can actually give 5 stars. I have a weak-spot for police procedurals, and this film is the pinnacle of them. So fabulously in-depth. It's also a great tale of class divide (read these write-ups by this guy and that guy--I'm not gonna even bother since they say it best).
High and Low honestly feels more like a collection of shorter films than one unified crime drama, but I think that is to it's advantage. This was my first taste of one of Kurosawa's modern films, and I certainly wasn't disappointed. My biggest complaint is that the crime seemed slightly arbitrary, and never really ties into Gondo's stake in National Shoes.
This review reportedly contains spoilers. I can handle the truth.
Seen as part of the Letterboxd Season Challenge; week 3
My personal preferences have always favored movies that operates within the sphere of emotions, feelings and human interactions and their fallout. It's not for nothing I love me some Kieslowski, I have a very French taste, and that movies like Lost in Translation, The Double Life of Veronique and Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind are among those highest on my yearly favorite list. I love it when film-makers use the medium to explore humans, understand them, or hand us alternate suggestions. As such Akira Kurosawa's High and Low will probably struggle to break into my top 5 come December/January, although there's no denying he has a lot to say…
So. This movie. Happens to be perfect. Maybe the cagiest movie ever. Certainly the best Kurosawa. I need to watch this 370 more times asap so I can write something that does it justice.
There is just so much to talk about, where could I begin? It's all there in the title, really: Tengoku to Jigoku. Heaven and Hell. And that's a movie. Heaven, then hell, epilogue, curtain. All the while being the best movie Hitchcock never filmed.
It begins already with a pitch-perfect scene: Kingo Gondo meets with his fellow businessmen. There is tension and character development enough in these first scenes for lesser filmmakers to inspire a whole movie upon, but Kurosawa goes so much further. In a…
Akira Kurosawa has created more masterpieces than certain directors have made flicks. High and Low is filled to the brim with great shots, interesting dialouge, and an overall great story that sticks with the auidence. Akira Kurosawa is a mastermind!
The entire Criterion collection organized by spine number.
I don't know why I did this.
Number I've Seen: 196/776 (25%)