Our Community, Our Voices. Roseville Area High School

The Ville

The Ville

The Ville

Erik At The Movies: High And Low


Earlier this month, it was reported that Spike Lee and Denzel Washington would remake the film High And Low with A24. As someone who has seen the first version, I felt like it was warranted to share my thoughts on the original.

High And Low /『天国と地獄』(1963 / 昭和三十八年) (日本) = I am still shocked at how fundamentally perfect this movie is. Despite making most of his work in 4 by 3, Akira Kurosawa once again showcases that he is still the master of widescreen. Every single image fully utilizes the power of horizontal composition and makes the first act one of the most visually stunning sequences I have ever seen on film.

Our story follows Kingo Gondo (portrayed by the incredible Toshirō Mifune), who is an executive at National Shoes and has just set in motion his hostile takeover of the company, leveraging every possession he has to meet the ¥50,000,000 bill. But just before he can accomplish this, his chauffeur’s son is kidnapped and is being held for a ¥30,000,000 ransom. He calls the police, and the investigation is led by Chief Detective Tokura (played by Tatsuya Nakadai), who helps wiretap his phones in an effort to find the boy. But Gondo must make a difficult choice on whether this young boy is worth his family’s livelihood or to be labeled a heartless executive for the rest of his days.

This is both a fantastic allegory of class struggle and the best police procedural I have ever seen. It’s almost impossible to say, given the sheer number of perfect movies he made, but this just might be my favorite Kurosawa film (tied with the equally brilliant Ikiru). A true masterpiece. 10/10.
High And Low is available from the Criterion Collection.

Leave a Comment
More to Discover
About the Contributor
Erik Larson
Erik Larson, Staff Writer
Hello! My name is Erik Larson and I am currently a staff writer at The Ville who specializes in reviewing the latest and greatest in film. In the words of game director Hideo Kojima: “70% of my body is made of movies.” You can find more of my movie reviews here at my Letterboxd: https://boxd.it/4N1v5

Comments (0)

All The Ville Picks Reader Picks Sort: Newest