Saturday, March 8, 2014

High and Low (Kurosawa, 1963): Mini-Film Review

Akira Kurosawa's 1963 film High and Low, based on the Ed McBain's 1959 novel King's Ransom, contains one of the best film resolutions ever captured on film. In the film's final scene, a wealthy business man confronts a kidnapper in a prison--only separated by a window in a visiting room, the reflection of each man on the screen suggests that the business man is a criminal, and the criminal is a business man, among other possible psychological interpretations--including the idea that the two men are actually one person. The first half of the film portrays the business man's perspective (high), and the second half--which is so slow that one might contemplate the ideas of the film rather than the narrative thread--is taken from the criminal's perspective (low). See Mitsuhiro Yoshimoto's excellent account of the film in his book Kurosawa: Film Studies and Japanese Cinema and A.O. Scott's take, below.


  1. So many complicated and great themes pointed out here. Might have to pick this up just to see how it all played out for myself. Thanks for the post.

  2. Thank you for your feedback -- glad to hear that! I would definitely recommend the film.