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The Asian ApertureThe Idiot
POSTED BY JASON FETTERS, June 17, 2012    Share

Akira Kurosawa decided to adapt the novel, The Idiot, by one of his favorite writers Fyodor Dostoevsky for Shochiku back in 1951. He followed the novel very closely and as a result there was very little artistic license and Kurosawa followed a literal translation.
The Idiot opens with the shy and introspective Kinji Kameda, as the idiot, who is returning from Okinawa after suffering a mental breakdown during the war. He meets Denkichi Akama, played by Toshiro Mifune on the train and the two will meet again.

Akama and Kameda get off at the station and Akama shows him a portrait of Taeko Nasu, played by Setsuko Hara. Immediately Kameda is drawn to her eyes and falls into a spell.

Akama and Kameda depart and eventually become rivals for Taeko.
The Idiot shows how Kameda tries to win over Taeko after he first meets her. He confesses his love to her in a bar but she rejects him because he is too pure and she, having been a former mistress, is not worthy. She runs off with Akama, who has just offered 1 million yen to buy her.

Kameda tries to forget Taeko and falls for Ayako, who has a sharp tongue and is overly critical. He shows up to her house every day and eventually she warms up to him. There are still difficult parts to their relationship.

Finally Ayako tells Kameda that she loves him because he is pure but she runs out of the house in tears when Taeko interferes. Tragedy ensures.

The Idiot is a big disappointment from Kurosawa. Setsuko Hara, the star of numerous Ozu home dramas is miscast as a former mistress. This goes against her public image in Japan of being an eternal virgin. This didnít sit well with a 1950ís Japanese audience.

Kurosawa usually has good music in his movies because of the control and constraint he puts on his composers. In the Idiot, the composer was allowed free reign and the music because overwhelming and certain pieces are over played, particularly during the ice skating scene that never seem to end with The Hall of the Mountain King and A Night on Bald Mountain playing.

Sometimes you can love a writer so much that when you set out to make a movie out of a story, the whole thing flops because you love it too much. That it what happened in The Idiot.
Still, the Kurosawa style is visible and later, better films would show his artistic growth.

The Idiot is a minor work from a great director that goes on far too long and because boring. You make yourself watch it to the end just to see the ending but you really donít want to see it again. The Idiot does have occasional entertaining moments but I would rather be watching Rashomon, Seven Samurai, Red Beard, or The Hidden Fortress.

2.5 out of 5 average entertainment

"The Asian Aperture" is ©2012 by Jason Fetters. All contents of Crazed Fanboy are ©2012 by Nolan B. Canova and Terence Nuzum.

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