After finishing what would become his international phenomenon Rashomon, Akira Kurosawa immediately turned to one of the most daring, and problem-plagued, productions of his career. The Idiot, an adaptation of Fyodor Dostoyevsky's nineteenth-century masterpiece about a wayward, pure soul's reintegration into society—updated by Kurosawa to capture Japan’s postwar aimlessness—was a victim of studio interference and, finally, public indifference. Today, this "folly" looks ever more fascinating, a stylish, otherworldly evocation of one man’s wintry mindscape.
May 21, 2022 Subject:
I doubt any non Russian production could convey the sheer emotional extravagance (bordering on comedy) of Dostoyevsky, so this is probably as good as it gets. It's not as believable as Kurosawa's Japanese dramas, but I doubt he had illusions on that score.
August 30, 2021 Subject:
I cannot imagine how the missing parts would add to this experience, I expected the film to feel terribly awkward, since a lot of scenes were cut from it by the producers, out of spite. They even burned the film, so nobody could ever piece it together.
But I felt numb at the end of the film. There were very few films that had this effect on me. It totally engulfed me in the atmosphere and the story. I knew it was to be the crown of his work, Kurosawa loved Dostoevsky and he had a deep understanding of The Idiot. I was and still am partial to the old Russian version and I still believe it is the best, unfinished, as it is. Even though it is a Kurosawa film and it is with Mifune Toshiro as Rogozov, here he is called Akama, it is not able to eclipse that one. Specifically, because of the lead. This actor was painful for me to see. He was not able to make feel the way I should have for The Idiot. I read the book and I saw that other one, my heart burst for that one. It did not for him. And that is the only thing I can say against the film. Tetsuko Hara and Mifune Toshiro were mesmerizing, and all the supporting cast had us moved to feel what we were to feel. I was transported, yes, once again, transported into the world of Dostoesky. It only happened three times in my life, and I know it will never happen again. Interestingly, the Japanese version was made 7 years earlier than the Russian one, and the Japanese is black and white the Russian is colour. All the same, both of them moved me deeply, and and left me transfixed at the end. It is perhaps Mifune Toshiro's best, or the most heartbreaking when we see and experience with him all the passion bottled up in his character, we breath with him and Tetsuko Hara and we live their pain. She makes us want to cry inside and we all want to tell her to dare start a clean life when we know she cannot. Tragedy is inevitable just like the main character knew it from the beginning. The ending however is different here. Nonethless it is powerful and shocking.
If you do not know either Kurosawa nor Dostoevsky it is best to brace yourself, it is not an easy drama.
But see it is a must. If you love literature if you love films, if you want a masterpiece, you have to see it.