Bad Sleep Well, The

Director: Akira Kurosawa

This is the most oblique of Kurosawa’s Shakespeare adaptationsoHamlet relocated to a modern big-business setting. Toshiro Mifune plays the secretary and son-in-law of the president of a giant government housing corporation, a seemingly loyal functionary. But behind his mask of quiet subservience the secretary is out to avenge the death of his father, a former employee, and has devised an insidious plan to bring down the corporation. This was the first release from Kurosawa’s own independent production company, and he seized the opportunity to attack what he saw as the culture of corruption poisoning modern Japan. At the same time he shows how revenge, however justified, turns against the revenger and compromises his cause. This film can be seen as a realisticoand therefore pessimisticocounterpart of Yojimbo: in the modern world there’s no place for the invincible samurai hero, and the bad will continue to enjoy their untroubled sleep.
Japan, 1960. English subtitles. Black and white. Anamorphic. 150 mins.

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