High and low

High and low

DVD - 1998 | Japanese
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A complex crime thriller in which a wealthy shoe manufacturer's chauffeur's son is kidnapped in mistake for his own, and he faces a moral dilemma
Publisher: Chicago : Home Vision Cinema, c1998, c1963
ISBN: 9780780021501
Characteristics: 1 videodisc (143 min.) : sd., b&w and col. ; 4 3/4 in
Alternative Title: Akira Kurosawa's High and low


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LPL_CamB Aug 19, 2017

The emerging social, cultural, and economic divisions of a rapidly modernizing and westernized Japan are laid bare when a botched kidnapping plot presents a moral dilemma for a wealthy industrialist and an enduring mystery for the police. Subtle, humane, and intellectually engaging, the film is an exploration of the complexities faced by a society in a chaotic state of flux.

Jun 26, 2017

Unfortunately Criterion blew it with the subtitles. White subtitles when so much of the background on which they appear means much of the dialog is unreadable. This makes the film hard to follow. It is also arguably too long.

Nov 21, 2016

Its Kurosawa plus Mifune! Nuff said!

Sep 27, 2015

Not quite sure why everyone is gushing over this movie and the only way I can explain those great reviews is that people are watching it as if it's the 1960's now. Sadly, most modern crime dramas for the last 20 years have better scripts which makes this look very clunky and slow. The motive was weak, the secondary cast mostly pointless and overall running length somewhat painful at 143 minutes. I did enjoy approximately the first half but as there is a fair bit of "who done it" guessing but after that it was mostly tedious. In the end this is more a movie to reinforce cultural stereotypes and behavior.

The translation is horrible too as my wife who is Japanese laughed many times thought-out the movie as what was being sad and what was written in the subs was pretty off. The Japanese title is "Heaven and Hell" which is more suited than "high and Low".

I'm sure this was a thrill 50 year ago...now? Not so much...

NewYorkViews May 17, 2015

Excellent 1960s crime drama in artistic b/w and shade contrast style, excellent acting, cast, and script--the main character moves from a corporate executive losing everything to a kidnapper, to the chief detective trying to solve with his unit, the increasingly complex crime. Interesting portrayal of Japanese women and Japanese culture during that time period. Suspenseful and some surprises.

Dec 13, 2014

When the board of directors of a major shoe company announce plans to cut costs by turning out substandard merchandise, Gondo, a frustrated executive, mortgages everything he owns in order to buy enough stock to vote them down. But before he can finalize his purchase tragedy strikes; the 9-year old son of his longtime chauffeur is abducted and the kidnapper is demanding an outrageous ransom or he will kill him. When the chauffeur turns to Gondo for help the businessman is faced with a near impossible choice; paying the money will leave him in financial ruin, doing nothing will result in the death of a child. Thus burdened, the hitherto conscientious Gondo must face a side of himself both terrifying and humbling. His final decision, and the events it sets in motion, makes for an intense police thriller which touches on issues of corporate inhumanity, social inequality, and the dehumanizing effects of the capitalist mindset. Glaring newspaper headlines provide some irony while a brief stint in a heroin den seems more like a zombie nightmare. Beautifully filmed, tightly directed, and not one minute of its 2-1/2 hour running time wasted. A classic in every sense.

Jan 10, 2014

Blown away by this Kurosawa thriller, which will have you on the edge of your seat the entire movie. The story centers around the kidnapping of a boy the kidnapper thinks is the son of a wealthy business executive (the great Toshiro Mifune). In fact, the kid is the son of his chauffeur. Mifune must decide whether to pay the ransom, which will ruin him, or forever be held up to ridicule and scorn. The second half of the film is devoted to the police investigation, led by the also great actor, Tatsuya Nakadai. A whole stable of Kurosawa regulars in the acting corps. A great movie.

Aug 22, 2013

I'm in agreement with a previous reviewer. This movie has to be one of the best thrillers ever. Perhaps the best. Great window into 1960s Japanese culture, and definately not dated at all. In fact, it seems innovative and fresh almost 50 years after its release.

Akira Kurosawa's 1963 "High and Low" is timeless film with rotoscoping a hue of pink in one scene of film.

Feb 18, 2013

Loosely based on "King's Ransom"---an 87th Precinct police procedural by Ed McBain, this film (Tengoku to jigoku: 天国と地獄) is a 143-minute film noir produced in 1963, starring Toshiro Mifune (三船敏郎), Tatsuya Nakadai (仲代達矢) and Kyōko Kagawa (香川京子).
It is both a riveting thriller and an accurate commentary on the Japanese society in the 1960s, in which Japan was climbing toward the second-largest economic power in the world.
A wealthy executive named Kingo Gondo (Toshiro Mifune) is in a struggle to gain control of a company called National Shoes. One faction wants the company to make cheap, low quality shoes for the impulse market while Gondo wants it to stick with sturdy but unfashionable shoes. Gondo believes that the long-term future of the company will be best served by well made shoes with modern styling, though this plan is unpopular because it means lower profits in the short term. He has secretly set up a leveraged buyout to gain control of the company, mortgaging all he has.
Most of the ransom money is recovered, but too late to save Gondo's property from auction.
With the kidnapper facing a death sentence, he and Gondo finally meet face to face.
Gondo has gone to work for a rival shoe company, earning less money but enjoying a free hand in running it.
The kidnapper reveals that envy from seeing Gondo's house on the hill every day led him to conceive of the crime.
This film is quite fascinating and entertaining yet thought-provoking.

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