The Idiot (and an update)

Setsuko Hara

was in no way a fool in

her film role choices.


Well, I had no luck with Early Summer, as I mentioned in my last post about the late Setsuko Hara.  I did find a version on-line but instead of the 128 minutes (being just over 2 hours), the clock said 3 hours and something so I reckoned oh well that will be a challenge, maybe they have some ads thrown in along the way but I can put up with that (a lot of ads!!).  However, ads were not the excuse and I didn’t find out what the excuse was as the screen kept stalling so I had to give up halfway through (that stalling can’t be the reason for the prolonging of a film surely).    Watching a film is not enjoyable if you have to put up with that nonsense.

I’ll try again some other day.  Instead, I opted for Akira Kurosawa’s 1951 version of Fyodor Dostoyevski’s novel The Idiot, featuring Setsuko Hara along with Toshiro Mifune, and Masayuki Mori who played the title role (both men were in Rashamon, as the villain and the samurai whose wife he covets, respectively).   There were other Kurosawa regulars in it as well (two others from Rashomon) and the old mother from Tokyo Story.  Anyway, Setsuko Hara’s role in this is totally different to her roles in Yasujiro Ozu’s films.   Totally different.   It clearly demonstrates that she could play more than one type of role.    I have never read Dostoyevsky’s the Idiot or any of his other works but I just plunged in to it (although I did look it up afterwards to see how different it was to the description of the novel).    It was a bit long and the ending is a strange one to say the least.  I’d love to see ‘No regrets from our Youth’ which shows her in yet another type of role (i.e. different to her roles in Yasujiro Ozu’s films).

Another good reason to watch this film is Toshiro Mifune.   What a class act he was.    Only yesterday I read that he refused the role of both Obi Wan Kenobi and Darth Vader, offered to him by George Lucas.    Because he felt they messed too much with the Samurai image.    You’d have to be living under a rock not to see the similarities with Samurai culture (more recently, the Skellig Michael rocks, haha – that SW film crew better have paid the place respect and not left a load of rubbish behind them and I really hope the Skelligs don’t get ruined by tourism, and littering tourists, either).  The characters are clearly modelled on Samurai behaviour, costumes and sword play.  Toshiro Mifune was afraid they would go too far and did not want to be part of disrespecting the Samurai image, according to his daughter who was present at a Star Wars related event.  Toshiro Mifune died in 1997 I think. I have my eye out for Stray Dog (Nora Inu) as well but I cannot seem to find it anywhere.  If anyone knows ….

UPDATE: I managed to see Early Summer after all.  Great film.    SPOILER ALERT:  She’s a bit mischievous in that and I find the way she picked her man a bit odd but she went with her gut feeling about him (he did seem very nice) despite not being averse to the man her family and friends had in mind for her who we don’t meet in the film but is a businessman who plays golf (yawn).    Her family are shocked at what they see as her waywardness but are probably more upset that the man has a toddler daughter already (he’s a widow whose mother looks after the child but she does not show the same discomfort about the child as they do, a discomfort which shows this obsession with blood ties in Japan that I have mentioned before) but eventually accept it.  They’re a decent family over all.

Now, about that Stray Dog which really is nowhere to be seen for free online.


Any thoughts? In haiku form or not?

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