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.
Though I'd known about the movie for years before seeing it, I'd never actually thought about what the title meant in relation to the film. Obviously, there's the idiomatic meaning (they're searching high and low for the kidnapper) and the thematic relation to class struggle (high class vs low class). But there's also, I think, a way in which the title draws attention to the placement of bodies in the frame. Shooting in widescreen allows Kurosawa to almost always include multiple figures in a single composition, and much of the tension in the first half of the film comes from the interplay of these bodies as they move about a single space, each with their own purpose and agenda, some…
Few films reach this high of an achievement in the history of cinema. Once could talk endlessly of Kurosawa's framing; of the journey he stages through the upper and lower classes of post-war Japan; of the tension between the chamber drama of the first half and the police procedural of the second; of Mifune, of Nakadai, of Kagawa. But one would probably be better off just watching the movie again and endlessly basking in Kurosawa's unrivaled brilliance.
First trip the Metrograph, and first time seeing "High and Low."
35mm @ Metrograph
This is great. It's very cool to see what is partly a reaction to psycho and partly just its own thing. That first act is a masterpiece of blocking for camera.
One of the best detective films I have ever watched.
It's stating the obvious, but is insane how ridiculously well Kurosawa tells a story mainly through the sheer display of the characters on screen. All sequences feel as gripping, intriguing and exciting as some of the best set pieces Hollywood has ever created, despite the constant lack of anything but a simple formal police meeting, or a bureaucratic exchange between the businessman and the detectives. The extended length makes the film slightly less engaging sometime in the second act, however that's the kind of nitpick almost as valid as saying Picasso's Guernica isn't perfect because it's too big. Also, that version of "Now or Never" comes out of nowhere and plays a considerable role in the overwhelming awesomeness of the much anticipated pay off.
everyone's in on the joke but me. i don't get it. i liked the few kurosawa movies i seen but not as much as everybody else. i dont get the magic part; not getting the deep feels i sees in people when they talk kurosawa.
The first 1012 films are from The 1,000 Greatest Films list, and maintain the original order. The films that follow…