akira kurosawa is one of my favorite directors and red beard is one of my favorite films of his so it is fair to say that this is one of my favorite films of all time. when i saw it was airing on TCM i knew i had to DVR it and watch it again and it is still a masterpiece of unparalleled excellence in my mind.
this it the final kurosawa/mifune collaboration and from watching the film you can kind of see it. the role is understated and an almost-mellow mifune takes a backseat to the film's main character yuzo kayama, who plays the young arrogant doctor. apparently, the lengthy shoot angered mifune who couldnt shave off his beard and work on other films. though the tension works as mifune's character really needed to be a cranky cantakerous doctor with set ways and a tough exterior. basically, red beard was the original house or cox from scrubs.
the plot is fairly: young arrogant is taught what it means to be a real doctor but the way the plot unfolds over the 3 hours is exquisitely done. i think i prefer the first half of the film in which kayama's yatusomoto arrives and resists the ways of red beard. the character development is so well done and flies by. in fact, the entire film flies by and does not feel like a 3 hour film. it just goes to show you that length is relative and with the right subject matter, no movie is ever long
though vastly different from kurosawa's samurai epics, it still bears the mark of the great director. his tales of humanity like ikiru (my favorite of his films) or dodeskaden (also amazing) like red beard have a hope and humanity that is so rare. the plot is never heavy handed or even too intense. it is perfect blend of heart and soul. i should really buy this DVD