The Magic of Akahige

Akahige is probably–no–it is the best movie I have seen with superb character development. This solemn epic of morals, virtues and the real meaning of maturity is about one of the greatest I have seen. Once again, Kurosawa teaches his audience of the basic virtues we learn at home on screen but with such profoundness and magnanimity as to stamp a mark by the time the film ends. It is a timeless cinematic tour de force and one of my highly regarded films.

Otoyo (Terumi Niki), Noboru (Yuzo Kayama) and Red Beard (Toshiro Mifune)

The story revolves around a young doctor fresh from Nagasaki, Noboru Yasumoto, played exceptionally well by Yuzo Kayama. It is his story and a whole lot more. We watch as he discovers the true meaning of dedicating a life in the service of others, of what it’s like to be a doctor. Noboru, hesitant at first, learns all the lessons of life. And like us, we appreciate the reality that even though there are those who malign others, “There are good people, too.”

He is slowly experiences the real world and taught by Dr. Niide, the clinic doctor known only by a single eponym — Akahige. Toshiro Mifune is flawless. In every scene he is in, I cannot help but focus my attention to him. He demands control  from every scene he is at in the movie and does it ever so expertly. Many would argue that Takashi Shimura would have been perfect for the role of Red Beard, maybe because of his amazing role in Drunken Angel, but those who have seen the movie cannot deny the fact that Mifune was exceptional as the hirsute doctor.

Watching Akahige is a magical and humbling experience. Every scene is perfection. From the Mantis to Sahachi and Okana to Otoyo and Chobo, all the characters play an important part in pushing the plot forward and enriching the story. Even the abrupt love story between the nurse and Handayu is a critical point of the movie. Those three minutes is but one of the many striking moments of Akahige. And the well shot is expertly done.

Akahige is sincere and deeply rejuvenating. It is a breath of fresh air that everyone must experience.

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