159. Red Beard

In 19th century Japan, beautifully recreated, a young doctor finds himself stuck at an unglamorous, underfunded clinic. His adversary, the head doctor, eventually becomes his mentor, teaching him compassion and humility in the face of the surrounding poverty. Although the main storyline of RED BEARD involves the relationship between these two men, the narrative works more like a collection of short stories. Each minor character shares his or her tale, and the result is a tapestry of tragedy and struggle that ultimately highlights the goodness of humanity. (I do love a film that takes a thoughtful and optimistic view on people.) Toshiro Mifune, in his final role for Kurosawa as the caring director of the clinic, is engaging and moving as ever. But I was also particularly moved by the performance of Terumi Niki, playing a young girl who is rescued from prostitution and mistrust.


  1. The first time I tried watching it, I found it too sentimental, but after giving it another shot, I appreciated how simple yet direct it was. Nice write-up.

    1. Oh yes, it’s definitely sentimental. But I guess like a short story collection, some sections did nothing for me while others hit me in the gut. Thanks for commenting!

  2. Michele–

    Sorry it has taken me a bit to get over here and comment. I absolutely love your illustration! Thanks for a truly unique contribution to the blogathon.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s