High and Low

High and Low

Director: Akira Kurosawa Cast: Toshiro Mifune, Kyoko Kagawa, Tatsuya Nakadai

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Overview

Akira Kurosawa was arguably Japan's greatest filmmaker and certainly the nation's most influential, and though he was most celebrated for historical epics such as Rashomon, Shichinin no samurai (aka The Seven Samurai) and Kakushi Toride No San-Akunin (aka The Hidden Fortress), he also made a number of powerful dramas examining life in contemporary Japan, and Tengoku To Jigoku (aka High and Low) was one of his most successful works in modern dress, a tense thriller about a businessman who is torn between financial ruin and moral obligation when his chauffeur's son is abducted by kidnappers. While the Criterion Collection first issued High and Low on Region One DVD in 1998, they've upgraded their presentation for this new release, and fans of Kurosawa should be pleased with the results. The film has been given a widescreen transfer to disc, letterboxed at 2.35:1 on conventional televisions and enhanced for anamorphic playback on 16x9 monitors. The black and white image lacks a bit of definition in the opening sequences set in the wealthy man's home, but the film looks sharp and displays an impressive grey scale when the story moves into the larger world. Like many early CinemaScope films, High and Low was released with a four-track magnetic stereo soundtrack for its initial engagements, and Criterion have restored the multi-channel mix for this DVD release, which plays as a surround mix on Dolby Digital Surround gear and folds down to a two-track mix for conventional stereo playback. The stereo mix doesn't sound remarkably spacious, but it does reveal details missing from the mono version and it certainly adds to the archival accuracy of this edition. The dialogue is in Japanese, with optional English language subtitles, and an alternate commentary track is also included, with film historian Stephen Prince talking about the technical details of the shoot as well as the finer points of Kurosawa's style. The first disc of this set is devoted to the feature, while disc two features supplemental material, including an installment of Akira Kurosawa: It Is Wonderful To Create (a Japanese documentary series on the filmmaker's life and work) devoted to the making of High and Low, an appearance by leading man Toshiro Mifune on Tetsuko Kuroyangi's TV talk show, and an exclusive on-screen interview with actor Tsutomu Yamazaki, who portrays the kidnapper. Two Japanese trailers and one American preview round out disc two, and the booklet boasts an original essay on High and Low by Geoffrey O'Brien and a 1963 Films and Filming article by Donald Richie drawn from a visit to the set during the film's production. It's hard to imagine a more attentive DVD edition of High and Low being released in North America, and once again Criterion have gone the extra mile to present an important film at its best advantage.

Product Details

Release Date: 07/22/2008
UPC: 0715515030922
Original Release: 1962
Rating: NR
Source: Criterion
Region Code: 1
Time: 2:23:00
Sales rank: 22,682

Special Features

Disc One:; New, restored high-definition digital transfer with original four-track surround sound; Audio commentary featuring Akira Kurosawa scholar Stephen Prince; New and improved English subtitle translation; Disc Two:; a 37-minute documentary of the making of High and Low, created as part of the Toho Masterworks series Akira Kurosaw: It Is Wonderful to Create; Rare video interview with actor Toshiro Mifune, conducted by tv talk-show host tetsuko kuroyanagi; New video interview with actor Tsutomu Yamazaki, who plays the kidnapped ; Theatricak trailers frpm Japan and the U.S.; A bookley featuring a new essay by critic Geoffrey O'Brien and an on-set account by Japanese film scholar Donald Richie

Cast & Crew

Performance Credits
Toshiro Mifune Kingo Gondo
Kyoko Kagawa Reiko, Gondo's Wife
Tatsuya Nakadai Inspector Tokura
Yutaka Sada Aoki
Kenjiro Ishiyama Detective Taguchi
Ko Kimura Detective Arai
Takashi Shimura Director
Yoshio Tsuchiya Detective Murata
Hiroshi Unayama Det. Shimado
Tsutomu Yamazaki Ginji Takeuchi
Susumu Fujita Commissioner
Takeshi Kato Detective Nakao
Tatsuya Mihashi Kawanishi
Koji Mitsui Reporter

Technical Credits
Akira Kurosawa Director,Screenwriter
Eijiro Hisaita Screenwriter
Ryuzo Kikushima Producer,Screenwriter
Shinobu Muraki Production Designer
Yoshiro Muraki Art Director
Choichi Nakai Cinematographer
Asakazu Nakai Cinematographer
Hideo Oguni Screenwriter
Takao Saito Cinematographer
Masaru Sato Score Composer
Tomoyuki Tanaka Producer
Herman G. Weinberg Translator

Scene Index

Disc #1 -- High and Low
1. Opening Credits [2:23]
2. High Heels [8:28]
3. King Gondo [5:52]
4. "I Have Youir Son" [2:58]
5. Special Delivery [4:06]
6. Second Call [5:54]
7. Aoki's Plea [4:21]
8. "I Won't Pay" [5:04]
9. Kwanishi's Advice [5:47]
10. "Hot As Hell" [5:13]
11. Preparations [4:57]
12. Bullet Train [6:37]
13. "Gondo's Sacrifice" [3:33]
14. 8 MM Proof [5:19]
15. Back At Headquarters [5:00]
16. Toyopets and ZGrudges [6:26]
17. Getting Better [5:26]
18. Mount Fuji and the Sea [8:19]
19. Press Briefing [6:05]
20. "1000-Yen Note Found" [3:17]
21. "Pretty Pink Smoke" [4:58]
22. Taking the Bait [5:12]
23. Tailing Takeuchi [9:35]
24. Dope Alley [5:41]
25. "A Real Prize" [2:46]
26. Now or Never [3:35]
27. Heavan and Hell [6:24]
28. Color Bars [:00]
Disc #2 -- High and Low
1. Introduction [2:17]
2. Three Gondon Mansions [5:31]
3. Longest Take [5:00]
4. Kodama II Express [7:55]
5. Supporting Actors [3:55]
6. Hunting the Kidnapper [3:22]
7. Design Details [3:14]
8. The Fourth Ending [2:44]
9. Kurosawa's Editing [2:57]
1. International Projects [7:09]
2. Alain Delon and Mr. Clean [4:05]
3. From China to Japan [6:08]
4. "Thee-Star Officer" [3:49]
5. Early Days in Film [3:35]
6. Living Though Hard Times [5:41]

Customer Reviews

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4.4 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 8 reviews.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Kurosawa deftly proves that he can maneuver the streets and locals of upscale and urban modern Japan just was assuredly as he can the villages and battlefields of feudal Japan. This taught thriller is split into two: a father coming to terms with his own class when he discovers after threat of extortion that the child he thought was his own that was kidnapped is the child of one of his servants and the police force that follows up the case in the second half of the film. A text book drama on how to keep tension laced through the entire film. Hitchcock would be proud.
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