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RED BEARD

Japan, 1965 (MIFF 1967, Programme 6)

Director: Akira Kurosawa

At the end of the Tokugawa Period, a young man returns to Edo after several years' study at a Dutch medical school in Nagasaki. Told to make a formal call at the public clinic and pay his respects to its head, an apparently despotic doctor called Red Beard, he learns that he is to stay there an work as an intern. Since he had hoped to be attached to the court medical staff, this news comes as a great shock to him. He refuses orders and purposely breaks hospital rules, until a death convinces him that only by serving others can he find fulfilment.

Red Beard is the summation of all of Kurosawa's films. In it he continues the major theme of his work - the human condition. As many of his characters have stated "We live in a hell", and in his major films (Living, Seven Samurai, The Lower Depths, and now Red Beard), the answer to this is that a man must come to terms with himself. By the time the first half of this three-hour film is over, the young intern has realized that, where understanding is concerned, pity and charity are poor substitutes for love and involvement.

Best Actor Award, O.C.I.C., San Giorgio and City of Venice Prizes, Venice Festival.

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