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High and Low| Review

High and Low’s complex treatment of film structure is indicative of Akira Kurosawa’s proficient cinema. There’s a common idea scattered across his filmography in regards to structure. First introduced in Rashomon, Kurosawa plays with ideas of cinematic continuity and progression. The film interconnects several accounts of a particular story, all of which ultimately present a different interpretation. This revolutionary concept of time would characterize Kurosawa’s skill in his manipulation of flow. Rashomon gained worldwide applause for its fresh take on cinematic boundaries, ultimately helping to establish Kurosawa’s name in the international scene. Rashomon would come to characterize Kurosawa’s occasional step in the realm of experimental cinema. However, some of his later films tamper with structure in a similarly powerful way, proving to rival Rashomon’s distinction.


A rather small and insignificant event sets up the plot of High and Low, as the concerns appear minute and require little attention. This is but a small incident that would ultimately spearhead the entire duration of the film. As the film progresses, and more characters come into play, the focus of the film dramatically increases. The resolution to this initial conflict steadily expands to something much more vast and difficult than previously considered. The anchor of the film at first centering around only several characters has now shifted to covering the lengths of cities. Every single individual presented in the film plays an incredibly crucial role in the plot. What once was just a small group of people attempting to resolve an issue has emerged into a gigantic and over-encompassing search. Kurosawa expertly uses this heightened scale of the film to dwell on its themes.


In the film, there’s a clear moral sense of identification and individuality. This concept of one’s identification is portrayed best by the overwhelming intensity and grandiose feeling of the film’s setting. The viewer experiences an intensified sense of community in the film, where they themselves feel as if they embody a key role in the population’s hunt for the solution to an impending threat. Kurosawa will regularly shift from character to character in the film, to further establish this exaggerated array of individuals. In essence, the film pushes one to contemplate their own individuality within their city and the crucial part they play in its function. In theory, this idea of scale and size would more than likely fail in a film. Yet, Kurosawa continuously maintains this feeling in a more than satisfactory manner.


What High and Low manages to accomplish with its unique brand of narrative structure is ever-present of its director’s distinct exhibit of quality. In every single one of Kurosawa’s films, there’s a creative display of cinematic properties. Whether it be cinematography, editing, or even just plot, the director toys with the typical standards of each attribute and molds it into something entirely special to him. What perhaps brings Seven Samurai such acclaim is its peculiar nature in the realm of storytelling. Kurosawa manipulates his stories to greatly complement the elements of the film. Directors like Kurosawa help to push forward and evolve the art form to degrees one would never have expected.

Time Stamp: June 2022

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