The Lower Depths

  • 1957
  • Movie
  • NR
  • Comedy, Drama

With THE LOWER DEPTHS, Kurosawa once again looked to Russian drama for his source material (having done so before with CRIME AND PUNISHMENT and THE IDIOT, which were only marginally successful). Based on a 1902 play by Gorky and set in 19th-century Japan, this is an ensemble film filled with fine performances (although Mifune, as usual, stands out). The...read more

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With THE LOWER DEPTHS, Kurosawa once again looked to Russian drama for his source material (having done so before with CRIME AND PUNISHMENT and THE IDIOT, which were only marginally successful). Based on a 1902 play by Gorky and set in 19th-century Japan, this is an ensemble film filled

with fine performances (although Mifune, as usual, stands out). The action takes place in a small hostel that houses an odd assortment of eccentric, loquacious characters. The landlady, Yamada, hates her boarders and treats them shabbily, except for Mifune, the thief she loves. Mifune, however, is

in love with Yamada's sister, and when the landlady learns of this, she kills her husband in a jealous rage. It is Mifune, however, who is arrested and charged with the murder. While Jean Renoir's 1936 adaptation of the play stresses its social importance, Kurosawa found himself attracted to the

material's inherent black comedy. It is the performance of Mifune, with his wildly vulgar and comic style, however, that is the chief contributor to the film's irreverent, humorous tone. The film was released in the US in 1962. (In Japanese; English subtitles.)

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  • Rating: NR
  • Review: With THE LOWER DEPTHS, Kurosawa once again looked to Russian drama for his source material (having done so before with CRIME AND PUNISHMENT and THE IDIOT, which were only marginally successful). Based on a 1902 play by Gorky and set in 19th-century Japan,… (more)

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