The Idiot (1951)


Bil’s rating (out of 5):  BBBB

Original title:  Hakuchi

Japan, 1951.  Screenplay by Akira Kurosawa, , based on the novel by .  Cinematography by .  Produced by .  Music by .  Production Design by .  Film Editing by Akira Kurosawa.

Dostoyevsky’s novel comes to the screen with sensitive beauty and delicacy by Akira Kurosawa.  The setting has been moved to Japan and names have been changed, but the ever-present snowdrifts and the odd appearance of a horse-drawn carriage or western-looking 19th century house suggest its Russian origins. Simple-minded  arrives in Hokkaido with travelling companion  and immediately becomes the object of affection between two women, the “fallen”  (giving a brilliant performance) and the “pure” .  The entire drama is taken up with themes of love, morality and class, with things reaching a boiling point as Mifune’s jealousy over Hara begins to turn dangerous. It’s very long and methodical, true to the author’s original work, but rendered so gorgeously by the masterful filmmaker, who coaxes unforgettable performances from his world-class actors.

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