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A monumental hospital-for-the poor based melodrama set in 19th century Japan, directed by legendary director Akira Kurosawa. An ageing doctor (nicknamed Red Beard, played by Toshiro Mifune) gradually instils into his young and ambitious new intern the rewards of working in the poorer sections of the community. The film bowls along magnificently in a strange yet compelling mixture of genuine emotion, absurdity and poetic fantasy and clearly shows Kurosawa’s humanitarian tendencies, without wallowing in sentimentality. The period recreation of 19th century Japan is matchless and Mifune's retrained yet towering central performance impresses. Although a huge success in Japan, and after a run of 16 straight films, this would prove to be the last time the legendary pairing of Kurosawa and Mifune would work together – the film took two years to shoot,  Mifune had to keep his (real!) beard for that two years, thus having to turn down many other lucrative roles, leading to their permanent estrangement.   

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