“I’m really a sick man. My brain is rotten.”
A traumatized and epilectic (“idiotic”) but deeply sympathetic veteran (Masayuki Mori) befriends a man (Toshiro Mifune) who is obsessively in love with the beautiful mistress (Setsuko Hara) of a wealthy man (Eijirô Yanagi), Hara is about to be married off to a man (Minoru Chiaki) eager for a dowry being brokered by Mori’s only remaining relative (Takashi Shimura) — but when Hara falls in love with Mori, this complicates his burgeoning romantic relationship with Shimura’s daughter (Yoshiko Kuga).
Genres, Themes, Actors, and Directors:
- Akira Kurosawa Films
- Japanese Films
- Love Triangle
- Obsessive Love
Akira Kurosawa’s follow-up film after the breakthrough success of Rashomon (1950) was this personal passion project — a faithful adaptation of a novel of the same name by Fyodor Dostoevsky. Kurosawa’s original version ran 265 minutes, but the abandoned footage has never been found, leaving us with a 166-minute iteration that honestly still feels pretty lengthy. While The Idiot was a personal favorite of Kurosawa’s, it hasn’t held up well as a particularly accessible movie, instead coming across as more of a literary adaptation that will be of most interest to those familiar with the novel. It’s enjoyable to see familiar and beloved faces from classic Japanese cinema:
… but we never really feel connected to their characters. The cinematography is appropriately stark:
… and the storyline’s setting in snowy, Russian-influenced Hokkaido is an effective choice:
… but I’ll wager that most viewers will find it a struggle to remain authentically engaged in the narrative.
Notable Performances, Qualities, and Moments:
- Fine cinematography
No, unless you’re a Kurosawa fan.