Watched Apr 13, 2012
Walter Andrade’s review:
This is probably the best thriller I've ever seen in my whole living experience. I wasn't expecting this kind of film. Kurosawa? In a crime movie? Yeah, that's right, buddy. And he shows how criminal movies can be deep and artistic. I couldn't hold myself thinking about how this movie can be seen like Sophocles' "Oedipus King", a real dialectic experience between the "best" someone could expect from life, and the "worst". We can indeed say it's about madness and rationality, good and evil, materialism and love, and the human value surrounding it all.
In the very beginning of this film Kurosawa gives you a tip about what is coming. When the credits are on the screen you can see images from the city. You are looking at it from a higher place, and the city down there is dirty, confused, you almost can't say exactly what you are seeing because the lines are diffuse and strange. When the camera turns and show your observatory, the colors become straight and you can see it all, it's obviously a comfortable place, a beautiful house with huge windows, rich men are sitting, smoking and chatting about business.
One of these men is Gondo-sama, our protagonist played by Toshiro Mifune in another amazing work, and he's talking with three others about the future of their shoe company. They disagree about how the shoes should be and Gondo-sama kicks them out. He's thinkin about taking everything he has and buy the company for himself, and he gives 50milion yenes to his functionary, Kawanishi, to him take the flight and make the deal. However, some minutes after that the phone rings and some stranger says that he has Gondo's son and he wants 30 milion to give him back. Gondo says he'll pay in the very same moment and the stranger hangs up. Some minutes passes and Gondo is getting more and more desperate when his son, Jun, come to the room. It happens that the stranger took the wrong boy. Instead taking Jun, he got Shinichi, the chauffeur's son. Now, should him give this money to the kidnapper and put in danger his whole life? The tension about this decision is amazing, you can't help feeling inside the scene, taking decisions and thinking with Gondo-sama and the cops.
Visually speaking, the b&w work is just amazing, this movie is simple gorgeous to watch. The contrast between the black and white is absolutely visible, as a pictorial metaphor of the film's subject.
"So while we wait to see that final day,
we cannot call a mortal being happy
before he’s passed beyond life free from pain."
These are the last lines from Oedipous King, translated by Ian Johnston (and you can find the full text here), but these could also be the last lines of this amazing movie. Couldn't it?