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Move Review - High and Low (1963 – Japan)

Updated on May 13, 2012

Akira Kirusawa's wonderful High and Low - a thoughtful, astonishingly surprising suspence film

This is a film that seduces you gradually. It starts slowly, in a room with a wall of windows, a room that manages to feel horribly claustrophobic in spite of all that glass. Gradually that room becomes a character in the movie, too, becoming not so much a place as an attitude and a metaphor for the empathy-less corporate culture the events in the movie shatter.

Watch the trailer for Akia Kirusawa's High and Low

How to decide when a life is on the line? Akira Kirusawa's High and Low asks that question and others.

I disagree with the many reviews of this film that fault the second half of the picture for being disjointed and inferior to the first half. The transition of focus that happens at about the midpoint is one of the most satisfying parts of the film because at that point we need to step outside that surreal room with its wall of windows (and repressed emotions) and look at what the windows look out upon: the rest of the world, in all its complexity -- life, in all its wonderful and horrifying messiness.

There are images from this movie that are remarkably haunting, archetypal bits and pieces of the world inside the room and outside it that lodge in your mind and linger. This picture is a terrific antidote to the blow-up-more-stuff-louder school of cinema and a great choice to watch with thoughtful companions with a willingness to discuss it after viewing.

Highly recommended.

Copyright © Roberta Lee 2012. All rights reserved.

(I am an artist and the author of the Suburban Sprawl series of novels as well as two nonfiction books. Find out more about my work at

Genre: Drama

Rated: Unrated

Running Time: 2 hr. 23 min.

In Theaters: Nov 26, 1963

On DVD: Oct 13, 1998

Directed By: Akira Kurosawa

Written By: Ryuzo Kikushima, Hideo Oguni, Akira Kurosawa


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 Katô - Detective Nakao

Old meets new in Akira Kirisawa's remarkable film High and Low

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Here are some other Kurosawa films:

One of a kind: the artist, Akira Kirisawa


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    • DIYmyOmy profile image

      DIYmyOmy 5 years ago from Philadelphia, PA

      Akira Kurosawa has directed several very famous films; do you have a Kurosawa favorite?