No 340 - High and Low
Director - Akira Kurosawa
Like Kurosawa I make mad films, 'k I don't make films but if I did they'd have a samurai. Kurosawa has become eponymous with films about ancient Japan, certainly he is most famous for films such as the 7 samurai. So I was quite surprised to step into this taut and modern (well 70's) thriller.
I was also impressed with how effective it is. The film is essentially split into two sections. The first half introduces the dizzying world of the ladies shoe business as Gondo gets into an argument with the other major share owners about the direction in which the company should go. The argument gets quite heated and there is a lot of besmirching of honour (which is still a big thing in Japanese culture) and the group separate on bad terms.
Once the board have left, we learn about Gondo's plan. He has invested everything into acquiring enough money to buy a majority share in the company and then he will be able to dictate the company's future. He has his cheque for 50 million Yen and is about to leave when he is informed his son has been kidnapped and is being held ransom for 30 million Yen. Of course Gondo is willing to pay instantly until an interesting twist occurs.
It is not his son. It is his son's best friend, the son of Gondo's chauffeur. We are left with a fascinating quandary. Should Gondo sacrifice everything he has saved up for the son of an employee. The police are called in and the scenes are genuinely taut and nerve wracking.
However, what is most impressive is that this entire section occurs in one room. It could, essentially, be a play. A very effective play (It might have happened, I can't be bothered to research it).
Finally a plan is made and the cash drop off is organised.
I enjoyed the guessing game of the who-dunnit (is it his business partners, is it him) but the middle bit does slightly drag as the police wander around trying to find the kidnapper.
When you finally find out who was it behind the kidnapping the answer manages to be both perfect and disappointing. You wish it was something deeper and more epic. But it makes perfect sense.
This is my view of the whole film really - I came in with preconceptions about Kurosawa which meant I was expecting grandiose and epic. What I got was something very low key but equally fascinating.
I am a rubbish film geek as I've never seen his work before, but I'm now excited in seeing more of Kurosawa's work