I hope some people had the chance to see the movie, I would love to hear more about what you thought of it @oot ! Definitely seems like @squim 's reading of the title is correct to me. Would be interesting if there were any japanese speakers/readers here who could shed more light on this, but from what I could gather from some googling it seems to imply in Japanese that the bad/evil sleep the best — as in, the more evil you are the better you sleep. The connection between sleep and death is interesting too, especially since this was inspired by Hamlet and there’s the famous speech in Hamlet “to sleep, perchance to dream…” which is about death and suicide. The evil are sleeping fine, while the loyal, the less evil, and the good, die. Also interesting the way revenge drives Nishi to do evil things, but still he’s not evil enough to get away with it—he falls in love, while the girl’s evil father drugs her without a second thought (puts her to sleep! also interesting that the Ophelia character here is one of the few that doesn’t commit suicide… the role of suicide here vs. in Hamlet is interesting to…)
Having mentioned Hamlet a couple times, I have to say I was surprised at how little this had to do with Hamlet—I went in thinking it was going to be a somewhat more straight adaptation, at least as straight as Ran was of King Lear. Did anyone see anything particularly interesting in the connection here with Hamlet? I’m not sure knowing that was the inspiration added a whole lot of insight for me, but I don’t have any sort of expertise on Hamlet or Shakespeare…
I have a lot of love for black and white movies, and digging back through Kurosawa’s early work these past couple weeks has been such a joy, especially with this film. He is well-regarded as a master of blocking and staging (placing the actors in the frame). Few filmmakers can tell a story simply with the framing as well as Kurosawa I think. I loved this shot opening the scene of the fateful reconnection between the couple and their moment to actually be in love. It divides them with the steel beam down the center of the frame, and we’re at a distance. By the end of this scene the camera is on the opposite side of this room and they kiss sitting on the beam—the division has been crossed, but this goodness is what dooms them too.
I also simply loved this shot earlier at the reveal of the abandoned factory:
There are too many examples of the wonderful staging here, and most of the youtube commentariat has discussed that at length, more than anything else about Kurosawa. Still, it’s true: there are many scenes you could watch without sound/subtitles and you can see how power shifts in the scene based on the blocking.
There’s much more to be said on the story, the themes, the characters… I don’t want to ramble too much, I look forward to hearing what people thought! Did y’all like the movie? I found it surprisingly engaging considering how much of a talking-in-rooms, explaining-the-conspiracy type of movie it was, but I think Kurosawa has that power… High and Low is one of my favorite movies and the first half of that takes place in one room basically Speaking of which—how about that Toshiro Mifune ?!