High and Low (1963)

by guest writer

high and low 1960

High and Low is Akira Kurosawa’s independent co-production with his former studio, Toho. The director was also co-writer of the screenplay based on a pulp thriller by Ed McBain, adapted for the film to the post-war traumatised Japan of the 1960s. The complexity of the film does not allow for any relaxed moments, although it runs for nearly two and a half hours. The movie’s opening scene takes us directly into the middle of a business confrontation between the partners of a shoe company that takes place in Gondo’s (Toshirô Mifune) luxurious house.

We are then presented with a case of abduction that will constitute the leitmotif of an in-depth examination of the Japanese society of the period. Kurosawa’s masterpiece thriller is, together with his political noirish The Bad Sleep Well (1960), among the movies that dared to put on screen, without veils, the new order brought by the American invasion and the wrongs of the period, whether we are speaking of corporation corruption, government corruption, moral corruption, the power of the press or social injustice. Toshirô Mifune’s and Tatsuya Nakadai’s roles, the latter plays Detective Tokura, are among the most noticeable parts of the film. The last winner is Kurosawa’s technique, taking lots of chances to achieve the status of perfection.

photo: still from the film

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