I watch movies while you are sleeping and live more hours of life than you.
I think Red Beard is the best Kurosawa film. Humour, suspense, fight sequence, , melodrama, climax, sensitivity, film touches every aspect of a great movie. It is simply the best.
One film-maker which needs no introduction in this craft is Kurosawa
Arrogant young doctor
Watching classics is one of the best ways to unwind. I naturally wander into a classic for a particular scene and stay the whole hog. One film-maker which needs no introduction is Kurosawa. Red Beard, for me, is the best Kurosawa movie.
- The story revolves around a young and ambitious doctor
- He arrives at Yojô Niide (Red Beard)’s clinic at the beginning.
- He is proud and arrogant because he had studied Western medicine in Nagasaki.
- He expects the position of a physician and boy, what awaits him at the clinic.
Spoilers ahead! If you haven’t seen the movie or expect to watch it, please stop somewhere here.
This is Yasumoto's first reaction to his situations in the clinic and this is my grasp of the storyline as it’d captivated me!
The first reaction
First, he is greeted by an outgoing doctor, who warns about the unfavourable conditions at the clinic. The outgoing one complains about everything: The smelly patients, their quarters and the stern Red Beard. Now, Yasumoto is almost convinced that he will leave the clinic at the earliest possible. He meets the Red Beard. He tries a bit to make him stay.
It is not about how careful and excellent is the story but how the story unfolds with a slight touch of tension and drama is the ingenuity. There is an insight in nailing that attitude and insolence of a young person who thinks highly of themselves and the contrasting humility of Red Beard. This is his first reaction to his situations and this is my grasp of the storyline as it’d captivated me.
The unraveling part
While Yasumoto refuses to eat and wear uniform of the clinic because he thinks rebelling against Red Beard would be the best way out, an ailing old man is brought in at the clinic, torments him and all of us. A woman turns up, claiming to be the daughter and wanting to meet him. Red Beard sorts the situation out, in a way building a respect in the judgement of Yasumoto. A woman who had been kept locked strays into his room, pins him down and tries to stab him with her hairpin. Red Beard rushes in and saves him at the right time. He explains how she tries to do this to every man because she had a mental condition from all the traumas from childhood. One after another, it dawns on him how the head of the clinic is a person and how everyone looks up on him. In a span of day or two, Yasumoto is exposed to all of humanity: Death, poverty and the simple struggle to give dignity to the patient or a dying person.
The scene had left an impression in my mind. In a scene, Red Beard leaves a dying man to look over. The patient gasps for air and contorts his face. Red Beard had told him to watch him closely and tells him: Nothing's so solemn as a man's last moments. In the beginning it doesn’t bother him. Then he looks away and even moves his body away from the dying man. The scene is something funny and at the same time, it is chilling to the bone.
The Showdown at Red-light Area
Both Red Beard and Yasumoto go to red-light area to check up on ailing people and find a delirious teenager from sickness. They try to take her forcibly to cure her illness. So, on the way out, they find these thugs being called by the owner of the prostitution place. In the beginning, he tells them to just let them go otherwise they will get hurt. He beats almost all of them and when he finds their broken bones and dislocated jaws. He asks Yasumoto to tend to them. I find the scene quite wildly satisfying and at the same time, funny.
The storyline is a collection of tragedies, tied together by the clinic. It touches upon the life of a woman in trauma that seeks revenge by killing men; a delirious teenager from fever forced to work in a prostitute house; a selfless man narrating his tragic loss of his wife; a goldsmith and his runaway wife and her tormented daughter and all the people who sacrifice to serve others.
The film is so riveting that I forgot it is made in B&W. The cinematography is the top drawer: Every frame is exquisite. I still want to watch more time. And, again.
Robert Sacchi on November 07, 2020:
It seems a movie much deeper than the usual martial arts films. Thank you for sharing.