Hakuchi (1951)


Hakuchi (1951)

Director: Akira Kurosawa
Starring: Setsuko Hara, Masayuki Mori, Toshiro Mifune

A traumatized, simple-minded veteran is released from a sanitarium and goes to Hokkaido, where he is caught up in a love triangle.

Throne of Blood is a better known example of Akira Kurosawa adapting a piece of Western literature to a Japanese setting, but it isn't the only example in his repertoire. For some reason, the heavy hitters of Russian literature have managed to escape my reading list and so I haven't read Dostoevsky's The Idiot, which is the basis for this movie. I've heard Russian literature is rather labyrinthine and you certainly get that vibe here. It's a complex narrative that's a little uneven due to all the cuts were made (the original version being nearly 100 minutes longer than what we have now). Still, it's an interesting character study. I particularly liked Masayuki Mori as Kameda, Toshiro Mifune as Akama, Setsuko Hara as Taeko, and Chieko Higashiyama as Ayako's busybody mother. These are some severely damaged people and sometimes it seems like poor Kameda is the only sane man around. It's a long movie and it may come off as tedious for some viewers. If you get invested in the characters, though, it's worthwhile. Give it a watch.

Watch It