High and Low
Toshiro Mifune is unforgettable as Kingo Gondo, a wealthy industrialist whose family becomes the target of a cold-blooded kidnapper in Akira Kurosawa's highly influential High and Low. Adapting Ed McBain's detective Novel King's Ransom, Kurosawa moves effortlessly from compelling race-against-time thriller to exacting social commentary, creating a penetrating portrait of contempory Japanese society.
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.
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.
For the most part, when a blindly buy a blu ray for a movie I haven't seen I tend to love it, or the very least like it(except for The Usual Suspect). High and Low is no different. I bought High and Low without seeing it for two reasons. The first is Barnes and Noble's Criterion sale. The second is that High and Low is a Kurosawa film. If that doesn't scream "quality film making", then I don't know what does.
Every Kurosawa film I have seen so far always has amazing cinematography, writing, performances, and score. Every. Single. One. For reference I have seen seven Kurosawa films. Again, High and Low is no different. What was nice about High…
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…
Well that was just fantastic.
Man, this plot keeps you hypnotized for 2 hours. You're glued to the screen watching all the tension and the mystery of the kidnapping unfold. I like how we go on the hunt for the kidnapper.
I must say, the Mifune-Kurosawa team is one I never want to end. When you combine that directing with that kind of acting, you only can get films like this. Nakadai is becoming another favorite of mine. He's just been in so many fantastic films, and his style of acting is so - I guess - laid back. I love it.
Something minor, but I loved all the locations used in this film. From grungy wet alleys, to beach…
A top-notch police procedural AND a self-contained first act that could've been its own teleplay (that also served as a master class in shot blocking & framing) AND an exciting train sequence that involved little more that a man dropping bags out of a window. & that final confrontation, with Gondo's ghostly reflection in the kidnapper's one-shot, and the kidnapper's ghostly reflection in Gondo's. That's the stuff.
Stunning. This might be a 10 on another viewing just because it is so knotty and there’s no way I caught everything that is wonderful about this film. But I caught a lot. Best blocking of any film ever? Probably. Best sunglasses? Definitely. This is a goddam motion picture, folks. And please, my God, anyone who is planning to make a movie that makes use of space (every movie ever), please study how this film makes sure that we know exactly where everyone is in relation to everyone else at all times. Study that tailing scene in the streets! Study it!
This film by Akira Kurosawa is perfect. Beginning to end, it never sounds an untrue note. Nothing feels forced. It tells the story of Kingo Gondo, an executive at a shoe manufacturing plant who is in the midst of a takeover of the entire company. He has mortgaged everything he owns so that he may buy shares and force out his partners. If the deal goes south, he will be destitute. And then, at the worst possible moment, he gets a phone call. A man says that Gondo's son has been kidnapped, and Gondo must pay thirty million yen in order to get him back. The matter is further complicated when Gondo's son walks through the door. As it turns…
What is a human life worth?
Gondo, played by a mustachioed Mifune, is a brash man, but a man who holds his cool. He has a vision, and the ability to gamble everything he owns on it. He lives in a sheltered world, up on top of a hill in a western-style house full of European and American furniture. The only thing Japanese is his wife's clothing—the one concession he makes to tradition.
He lives in the common man's heaven, in a lavish home, as good as dead without his work, he says. At least, besides living for his son. He is soon to part with his money when he thinks his boy is kidnapped. It is not necessarily worth…
Moving away from his universally lauded work embedded in traditional Japanese culture, Akira Kurosawa continued to prove his genius in more contemporary pieces. At its heart High and Low is a straight forward crime drama whilst offering a look at modern day Japan at that time.
The first half of the film is focused through long takes of dialogue almost entirely in the living room of Gondo, stubborn executive of National Shoes. Here and throughout the film the widescreen is used to full effect, the characters using the entire space available. You could envisage this part of the film as a stageplay, watching Gondo locked in battle with his conscience reflected by the people in the room.
Businessman, husband or…
This review reportedly contains spoilers. I can handle the truth.
Once again, Akira Kurosawa delivers on every level. A movie split into two parts. The first part focuses on a kidnapping gone wrong and the second part focuses on the investigation into the culprit. The film is rife with perfect mise en scene. The final third is absolutely riveting. Amazing, amazing stuff.
In the second half of High and Low, Kurosawa deviates from the unconventionality of the first half towards a much more standard narrative. While Gondo is implied to be the protagonist in the first half of the movie, Kurosawa reveals that the detective, Tokura, is in fact the main character. Gondo, as well as the kidnapper, is an ancillary character serving as the titular "high" (to the kidnapper's "low") in Tokura's narrative. Kurosawa also does a very, very blatant 180 in the film's non-diagetic realism: he introduces an instance of color to an otherwise completely black and white film. The second half also differs largely from the first in a very visual way; the first half is comprised of flatter, more geometric two-dimensional space, while the second (the fish market, for example) is much messier and more erratic. Gondo's character is also revealed mainly through dialogue while the kidnapper's is more through cinematic techniques.
The second half of High and Low takes an interesting turn that really breaks the conventional narrative more that the first half. Changing up both the psychology and perspective of the film, Kurusawa shifts the direction of the film, and it becomes the story of catching the kidnappers rather than Gondo's internal struggle. High and Low becomes an almost completely different movie when it leaves the confines of Gondo's apartment. The narrative of High and Low takes a complete 180 and thus the conventional narrative is broken and we find out just why we watches this movie in film studies,