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…
I had to watch the final scene twice, and it was even more powerful the second time. Not only has Kurosawa created one of the most thrilling thrillers of all time, but has also made one of his powerful political statements in his filmography. The film is peppered with scenes of Japan's loss of identity and society's rejection of traditional values. This is one of the darkest portrayals of Japan I've ever seen Kurosawa do. From Jun's innocent American cowboy outfit to the scene at the bar full of American soldiers, there is a subtle sense of bitterness that cannot be shaken off of the screen. It is for this reason that High And…
This review reportedly contains spoilers. I can handle the truth.
I absolutely loved the way the first part of this film (until they find Shinichi) is set entirely in one location and consists of framing people standing, sitting down (or falling to the ground in Aoki's case) as the tension grows. Such a brilliant cinematography work!
And what a screenplay! The moral crossroads Gondo is forced to face resonates with us so much because the movie had already made us sympathize with his ideals and his values right from the first dialogue.
The kidnapper is also very well built, full of pride and seeming cold-bloodedness, and also intelligence, of course.
I also loved the way the public opinion on the case influenced the development of the plot. It reminded me…
Absolutely riviting. One of the master's finest films.
Nothing feels dated or hackneyed, and many elements of the modern adult thriller can be traced back to this movie.
Movie's so good it pisses me off
Una película inmortal a la altura de los grandes clásicos de Kurosawa que a veces parece ser fagocitada por su cine de samurais.
It's not enough to call it masterful, cause any old world-class auteur can do masterful. Kurosawa constantly surprises with the directions he allows his story(telling) to go. He's not afraid to blow it up and start again, sometimes from one scene to the next. It seems like a lot of work. I certainly couldn't be bothered.
Easily one of Kurosawa's best films. The tension feels real, and Mifune's performance, while being one of his most reserved, is also one of his best as well.
Spending so much time indoors, Kurosawa wasn't able to rely on the elements to convey motion as much as he normally does, but this is a plus because it makes his use of editing and bodies of water all the more effective, especially when we first meet the kidnapper. I also really loved the drug den scenes. His use of light on those sunglasses blew me away, and the movement of the junkies is enough to delight any horror fan. Bottom line, this is not a film to be missed. I would even go so far as to call it essential viewing.
Absolutely amazing how Kurosawa has assembled this stirring trident of tight (one room) extortion thriller, elaborate police procedural & psychological drama. I'd argue that in the hands of a lesser director this wouldn't have worked out. Just wow.
The entire Criterion collection organized by spine number.
I don't know why I did this.
Number I've Seen: 196/776 (25%)