Bil’s rating (out of 5): BBBB.
Original title: Hakuchi
Japan, 1951. Shôchiku Eiga. Screenplay by Akira Kurosawa, Eijiro Hisaita, based on the novel by Fyodor Dostoevsky. Cinematography by Toshio Ubukata. Produced by Takashi Koide. Music by Fumio Hayasaka. Production Design by Takashi Matsuyama. 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 Masayuki Mori arrives in Hokkaido with travelling companion Toshirô Mifune and immediately becomes the object of affection between two women, the “fallen” Setsuko Hara (giving a brilliant performance) and the “pure” Yoshiko Kuga. 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.