Between the sword epics "Seven Samurai" and "Throne of Blood," the great Japanese director Akira Kurosawa chose to make a contemporary (1955) film about a man obsessed by the H-bomb. Before the movie starts, he has bought land in the hinterlands and tried to build an underground shelter. Now he wants to sell his home and factory and take his large family -- as well as several mistresses and their children -- to Brazil, where he thinks they'll all be safer from fallout. The family, unwilling to go and fearful about the loss of the family fortune, takes him to court to get him declared mentally incompetent. A dentist (Shimura) who volunteers as a mediator in the family court serves as chorus and audience surrogate, trying to weigh the hero's sense and sanity. Mifune, then 35, plays a man twice his age, and though his makeup is poor and body language inconsistent, it's still a striking performance in a thought-provoking movie.
This report prepared by David Loftus