A ghost story in which the living haunt the dead, The Bad Sleep Well remains the least appreciated of Akira Kurosawa’s collaborations with Toshiro Mifune. Fueled with personal anguish, a man called Nishi (Toshiro Mifune) concocts an elaborate plan to bring down a public construction company with apparent ties to the inner circles of Japan’s highest government officials. From the beginning the film announces its intention to defoliate decorum and expose impropriety at every turn. Determined to respond to the institutionalized evil with his masterful forces, Kurosawa slashes back at his invisible foes with a series of supercinematic set pieces and heroic visual design. The question raised in the end is how do you topple a sleeping giant when you’re shackled to the very shadow upon which it will surely land?
image: courtesy Janus Films