Red Beard

 

2014-12-03

Red Beard performs surgery as Yasumot o looks on

I had imagined the premise of Kurosawa’s Red Beard (1965) incorrectly for years. I assumed it was some samurai film with lots of sword fights so I never bothered with it. Then when I listened to the commentary on The Lower Depths, I realized that it was a drama. I had to right this wrong so I picked up the DVD at the library.

Set in 19th century Japan, Red Beard isn’t just about the curmudgeon older doctor so nicknamed, it’s equally about young Dr. Yasumoto, who has just finished medical school and arrives Red Beard’s clinic. Yasumoto is not happy about working in a clinic that serves the poorest of the poor. He had his heart set on treating high status samurai. Surely, this is a mistake the arrogant, obstinate  young doctor believes.

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Yasumoto (Kayama) and Red Beard (Mifune) with director A. Kurosawa

Yasumoto refuses to put on the clinic uniform or to abide by any of the clinic rules. He’s horrified by the outward appearance of the poor. He almost gets killed when he flouts a rule about avoiding the hut in the back where a deranged, wealthy woman is housed. All the while Red Beard is gruff, wise and patient. He sees so much more than Yasumoto can.

I loved Red Beard’s gruff ways. He was gentle with the patients who needed it, but tough with those who were foolish. He was wise in dealing with Yasumoto, allowing the young doctor to figure life out on his own and smiling when he finally donned his uniform and took on treating the poor of his own accord.

The plot twists and turns. Sometimes Red Beard is the focus, often Yasumoto, or a poor girl who’s rescued from a brothel. So many characters are given the spotlight and they all deserve it. The film has an emotional depth on par with The Human Condition, and one that few films bother to attempt. Kurosawa doesn’t beat you over the head with a message, but he does make you muse on how you should be kinder or more compassionate, how you should stretch beyond your comfort zone. It’s a film I could watch again and again. I’m so glad my misconception was dispelled. Red Beard is a treasure.

 

Cee’s Fun Foto Challenge: Horizontal Lines

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Names on Chicago Vietnam War Memorial

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Seoul Palace

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Chong King Mansions, Hong Kong 

Each week Cee of Cee’s Photography challenges bloggers with a fun prompt. This week we’re to find photos of subjects that feature horizontal lines.

If you want to see more fun photos, click here.

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Tell Me Something Good

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Tell Me Something Good is a simple challenge that prompts bloggers to share a nugget of positive news or wisdom and it’s started by the creator of A Momma’s View.

  • I began the week with a lively Great Books discussion at my library. We talked about Plato’s Apology and had a few new additions to our group.
  • I was blown away by two outstanding old films: Red Beard by Kurosawa and Monsieur Vincent, a bio pic about Vincent DePaul.
  • I’m delighting in favorite summer fruits like cherries and watermelon.

So for all of you who would like to play along and stick to the rules, here they are:

It’s easy:

Mention something that you consider being good in the comments

• Or write a post about it on your blog (please don’t forget the pingback if you do so I don’t miss out and also share the link to it in the comments below). Something good that happened to you recently, or something good you will experience in a little while, or something good you know will happen soon. Something that makes you feel good.

• Share this post and invite your followers as well.

Sepia Saturday

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This week bloggers are challenged to share photos of police. To see more posts on this week’s prompt, click here.

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Coral Gables Police, 1926, from Florida Memory on Flickr Commons

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From Bell Telephone Magazine, 1922, from Internet Archives
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Mounted police, New York, 1911 from LOC, Flickr Commons.

From around the world:

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Indian and Chinese police, 1910, University of Washington, Flickr Commons

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French police, 19302