Author:yippeiokiyay from United States
It's one of Kurosawa's most neglected masterpieces. "The Lower Depths"takes us into a ravine tenement, run by greedy, brutal landlords, andinhabited by the lowest of society's strata. All action takes place intwo locations: the interior of the tenement, or the tenement grounds.
How amazing, then, is the fascination this film exerts on us, with itsvery modest settings. I am astonished at the creativity of the filmshooting these restricted spaces, in so many varied and telling ways:space expands and contracts as is necessary to the story: the outsideis either threatening or an escape, but even once outside, we see thatthere is no escape, and diagonals show us the human dimensions ofrestricted choice. Space speaks volumes in the film, accompanied by thebeauty of the ensemble acting, expressing profound truths.
We find ourselves engaged in the lives of these people, and puzzledover the character of Bokuzen Hidari as the pilgrim. Is he good? If heis good, and pacifies the dispossessed by acknowledging theirillusions, does it mean that self-deception is good? What wonderfulensemble acting! The director put them through long, tough rehearsals,and the result is a seamless film. No wrong notes, no overacting, justa beautiful and strange film that haunts us after we've experienced it.Such invisible, great acting, and humor and pathos.
The character of the actor is the finest piece of work by the Kurosawaveteran Kamatari Fujiwara. It is amazing that this actor appears insuch diverse roles as Matahichi in "The Hidden Fortress" and as acorrupt executive in "The Bad Sleep Well". What astonishing range anddepth! How brilliantly Kurosawa uses the actor's range! And, of course,we have our beloved Toshiro Mifune, laughing, kicking up his heels indevilish delight, trying to impress the girl, pouting with thelandlady, listening with suspicion, then respect to the pilgrim...doingso many things so well, we are bereft when he is absent for the film'sconclusion.
And what a conclusion! The harsh clappers that end the movie, thefrontal shot of the gambler as he addresses us (for the only time inthe film) directly, and the sudden end! Gorky...Kurosawa, BokuzenHidari, Toshiro Mifune, Kamatari Fujiwara and the rest....they live onin this masterpiece, for which I am very grateful.