High and Low

( 8 )

Overview

Akira Kurosawa was arguably Japan's greatest filmmaker and certainly the nation's most influential, and though he was most celebrated for historical epics such as Rashomon, Shichinin no samurai (aka The Seven Samurai) and Kakushi Toride No San-Akunin (aka The Hidden Fortress), he also made a number of powerful dramas examining life in contemporary Japan, and Tengoku To Jigoku (aka High and Low) was one of his most successful works in modern dress, a tense thriller about a businessman who is torn between financial...
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Overview

Akira Kurosawa was arguably Japan's greatest filmmaker and certainly the nation's most influential, and though he was most celebrated for historical epics such as Rashomon, Shichinin no samurai (aka The Seven Samurai) and Kakushi Toride No San-Akunin (aka The Hidden Fortress), he also made a number of powerful dramas examining life in contemporary Japan, and Tengoku To Jigoku (aka High and Low) was one of his most successful works in modern dress, a tense thriller about a businessman who is torn between financial ruin and moral obligation when his chauffeur's son is abducted by kidnappers. While the Criterion Collection first issued High and Low on Region One DVD in 1998, they've upgraded their presentation for this new release, and fans of Kurosawa should be pleased with the results. The film has been given a widescreen transfer to disc, letterboxed at 2.35:1 on conventional televisions and enhanced for anamorphic playback on 16x9 monitors. The black and white image lacks a bit of definition in the opening sequences set in the wealthy man's home, but the film looks sharp and displays an impressive grey scale when the story moves into the larger world. Like many early CinemaScope films, High and Low was released with a four-track magnetic stereo soundtrack for its initial engagements, and Criterion have restored the multi-channel mix for this DVD release, which plays as a surround mix on Dolby Digital Surround gear and folds down to a two-track mix for conventional stereo playback. The stereo mix doesn't sound remarkably spacious, but it does reveal details missing from the mono version and it certainly adds to the archival accuracy of this edition. The dialogue is in Japanese, with optional English language subtitles, and an alternate commentary track is also included, with film historian Stephen Prince talking about the technical details of the shoot as well as the finer points of Kurosawa's style. The first disc of this set is devoted to the feature, while disc two features supplemental material, including an installment of Akira Kurosawa: It Is Wonderful To Create (a Japanese documentary series on the filmmaker's life and work) devoted to the making of High and Low, an appearance by leading man Toshiro Mifune on Tetsuko Kuroyangi's TV talk show, and an exclusive on-screen interview with actor Tsutomu Yamazaki, who portrays the kidnapper. Two Japanese trailers and one American preview round out disc two, and the booklet boasts an original essay on High and Low by Geoffrey O'Brien and a 1963 Films and Filming article by Donald Richie drawn from a visit to the set during the film's production. It's hard to imagine a more attentive DVD edition of High and Low being released in North America, and once again Criterion have gone the extra mile to present an important film at its best advantage.
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Special Features

Disc One:; New, restored high-definition digital transfer with original four-track surround sound; Audio commentary featuring Akira Kurosawa scholar Stephen Prince; New and improved English subtitle translation; Disc Two:; a 37-minute documentary of the making of High and Low, created as part of the Toho Masterworks series Akira Kurosaw: It Is Wonderful to Create; Rare video interview with actor Toshiro Mifune, conducted by tv talk-show host tetsuko kuroyanagi; New video interview with actor Tsutomu Yamazaki, who plays the kidnapped ; Theatricak trailers frpm Japan and the U.S.; A bookley featuring a new essay by critic Geoffrey O'Brien and an on-set account by Japanese film scholar Donald Richie
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Editorial Reviews

All Movie Guide - Michael Costello
Kurosawa's adaptation of Ed McBain's police procedural is a Dostoyevskian morality play told with dazzlingly choreographed long takes. Toshiro Mifune stars as a business executive who begins to gather a ransom large enough to bankrupt his business after getting a note from kidnappers about a stolen child. When his son turns up, he realizes that it was his chauffeur's son who was abducted, and must decide what course to take. Kurosawa's films with contemporary settings have often dwelt on the corruption of the powerful, in particular on the world of business. But here, as the prerogatives of business clash with personal obligations, it's a businessman who must run the gauntlet of conscience. The film's first act, dealing with Mifune's discovery and tortured decision-making process is a tour-de-force of acting and direction, shot in master scenes whose fluidity is abetted by the mobility and lightness of the shoji screens separating the rooms of the spacious house. The latter part of the film, which tracks the police investigation, points up the collective nature of Japanese law enforcement and features excellent performances by Takashi Shimura and, in an early role, Tatsuya Nakadai. After opening in relative luxury high above the city, Kurosawa then immerses one in the grimy, tightly packed urban nightmare below. As the kidnapper confronts his victim in a shatteringly conclusive scene, he illustrates the gulf between the two.
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Product Details

  • Release Date: 7/22/2008
  • UPC: 715515030922
  • Original Release: 1962
  • Rating:

  • Source: Criterion
  • Region Code: 1
  • Presentation: Special Edition
  • Language: Japanese
  • Time: 2:23:00
  • Format: DVD
  • Sales rank: 825

Cast & Crew

Performance Credits
Toshiro Mifune Kingo Gondo
Kyoko Kagawa Reiko, Gondo's Wife
Tatsuya Nakadai Inspector Tokura
Yutaka Sada Aoki
Kenjiro Ishiyama Detective Taguchi
Susumu Fujita Commissioner
Takeshi Kato Detective Nakao
Ko Kimura Detective Arai
Tatsuya Mihashi Kawanishi
Koji Mitsui Reporter
Takashi Shimura Director
Yoshio Tsuchiya Detective Murata
Hiroshi Unayama Det. Shimado
Tsutomu Yamazaki Ginji Takeuchi
Technical Credits
Akira Kurosawa Director, Screenwriter
Eijiro Hisaita Screenwriter
Ryuzo Kikushima Producer, Screenwriter
Shinobu Muraki Production Designer
Yoshiro Muraki Art Director
Asakazu Nakai Cinematographer
Choichi Nakai Cinematographer
Hideo Oguni Screenwriter
Takao Saito Cinematographer
Masaru Sato Score Composer
Tomoyuki Tanaka Producer
Herman G. Weinberg Translator
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Scene Index

Disc #1 -- High and Low
1. Opening Credits [2:23]
2. High Heels [8:28]
3. King Gondo [5:52]
4. "I Have Youir Son" [2:58]
5. Special Delivery [4:06]
6. Second Call [5:54]
7. Aoki's Plea [4:21]
8. "I Won't Pay" [5:04]
9. Kwanishi's Advice [5:47]
10. "Hot As Hell" [5:13]
11. Preparations [4:57]
12. Bullet Train [6:37]
13. "Gondo's Sacrifice" [3:33]
14. 8 MM Proof [5:19]
15. Back At Headquarters [5:00]
16. Toyopets and ZGrudges [6:26]
17. Getting Better [5:26]
18. Mount Fuji and the Sea [8:19]
19. Press Briefing [6:05]
20. "1000-Yen Note Found" [3:17]
21. "Pretty Pink Smoke" [4:58]
22. Taking the Bait [5:12]
23. Tailing Takeuchi [9:35]
24. Dope Alley [5:41]
25. "A Real Prize" [2:46]
26. Now or Never [3:35]
27. Heavan and Hell [6:24]
28. Color Bars [:00]
Disc #2 -- High and Low
1. Introduction [2:17]
2. Three Gondon Mansions [5:31]
3. Longest Take [5:00]
4. Kodama II Express [7:55]
5. Supporting Actors [3:55]
6. Hunting the Kidnapper [3:22]
7. Design Details [3:14]
8. The Fourth Ending [2:44]
9. Kurosawa's Editing [2:57]
1. International Projects [7:09]
2. Alain Delon and Mr. Clean [4:05]
3. From China to Japan [6:08]
4. "Thee-Star Officer" [3:49]
5. Early Days in Film [3:35]
6. Living Though Hard Times [5:41]
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Menu

Disc #1 -- High and Low
   Play the Movie
   Chapters
   Commentary
      On/Off
      Index
         Introduction
         King's Ransom
         Camera Positions
         Aoki and Gondo
         Tatsuya Nakadai
         12 Angry Men
         Lack of a Hero
         Air-Conditioning
         Executives As Samurai
         "Mashing Space"
         Five-Minute Shot
         Shooting on a Real Train
         TSutomu Yamazaki
         Yusa in Stray Dog
         Japanese Police System
         "sweltering Urban Life"
         Methodical Personality
         "Spate of Serious Cases"
         Kurosawa's Topical Fims
         Space Relations
         His First Use of Color
         Frame Within a Frame
         Jazz and the U.S. Military
         Economic Fallout
         "Oddly Intimate Moment"
         "O Sole Mio"
         Engimatic Ending
         Color Bars
   Subtitles
      On/Off
Disc #2 -- High and Low
   Akira Kurosawa: It Is Wonderful to Create
      Play
      Index
   Toshiro Mifune
      Play
      Index
   Tsutomu Yamzaki
      Play
   Trailers
      Trailer
      Teaser
      U.S. Trailer
   Subtitles
      On/Off
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Customer Reviews

Average Rating 4.5
( 8 )
Rating Distribution

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(4)

4 Star

(3)

3 Star

(1)

2 Star

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Sort by: Showing all of 8 Customer Reviews
  • Anonymous

    Posted July 18, 2013

    Kurosawa deftly proves that he can maneuver the streets and loca

    Kurosawa deftly proves that he can maneuver the streets and locals of upscale and urban modern Japan just was assuredly as he can the villages and battlefields of feudal Japan. This taught thriller is split into two: a father coming to terms with his own class when he discovers after threat of extortion that the child he thought was his own that was kidnapped is the child of one of his servants and the police force that follows up the case in the second half of the film. A text book drama on how to keep tension laced through the entire film. Hitchcock would be proud.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted December 22, 2009

    No text was provided for this review.

  • Anonymous

    Posted August 5, 2011

    No text was provided for this review.

  • Anonymous

    Posted July 12, 2011

    No text was provided for this review.

  • Anonymous

    Posted July 24, 2010

    No text was provided for this review.

  • Anonymous

    Posted December 4, 2008

    No text was provided for this review.

  • Anonymous

    Posted July 26, 2010

    No text was provided for this review.

  • Anonymous

    Posted December 3, 2010

    No text was provided for this review.

Sort by: Showing all of 8 Customer Reviews