High and Low: From Pulp to Poetry
Screening Dates
  • May 30, 2019 6:30
  • June 1, 2019 8:15
  • June 2, 2019 3:30

Akira Kurosawa’s morally complex noir thriller—“the masterpiece of Kurosawa’s modern-day movies” (Elliott Stein, Village Voice)—adapts American crime writer Ed McBain’s novel King’s Ransom. Gondo (Kurosawa regular Toshiro Mifune), a self-made tycoon in financial straits, receives word that his young son has been kidnapped. Paying the ransom demand will sink him; when it transpires that the kidnapper actually grabbed the chauffeur’s son by mistake, yet still wants all the money, Gondo faces a terrible dilemma. The suspenseful film’s first half unfolds mostly with the confines of a single room; the second half explodes into a frenetic police procedural. High and Low is one of Kurosawa’s most impressively formal works, with taut CinemaScope framing, marvellous deep-focus compositions, gripping set pieces, great use of mirrors and reflections, and ironic point-of-view interplay between high and low—or, as the Japanese title has it, heaven and hell!

The May 30 screening of High and Low will include​a From Pulp to Poetry” curator’s introduction from critic and author Donald Brackett.