Wednesday, September 20, 2006

Moments of Distinction

The Film – The Bad Sleep Well, dir. Akira Kurosawa, 1960

The Set-Up – Yushiko (Kyoko Kagawa) has finally discovered that Nishi (Toshiro Mifune) has only married her as a means to getting close to her father, who has caused the death of Nishi’s father.

Nishi looks away in guilt as Yoshiko confronts him about his quest for revenge.

She turns away. Her disability is accentuated.

Nishi goes after her, feeling remorse for this woman who he has used. It's the first time that Mifune's Nichi has seen himself as anything but a righteous avenging angel.

They kiss. Note the bench between them.

They drop to seated positions.

Nishi now gets up; Yoshiko tells him that despite everything, she can’t hate her father.

Nishi sits, facing away from her now, and tells the story of his illegitimate father, and his suicide. During the course of this monologue, any possibility of pity dissolves.

Kurosawa was a master at placing his actors in the widescreen tableau for effect, and this is a classic example. In the shot above where the two kiss, it’s just a stroke of genius that the wooden bench divides them, even as they share this tender moment. There is not a single second during this sequence where the two of them, husband and wife, are standing together.

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