Red Beard

The shooting schedule for master filmmaker Akira Kurosawa’s Red Beard (1965), a period medical drama, stretched over two years, a then-unprecedented amount of time to make a movie. The charismatic Japanese actor Toshiro Mifune, whose international success was largely due to Kurosawa — they had made 15 movies together — not only couldn’t shave off the beard that was an intrinsic part of his character for the entire time, he was under contract and couldn’t act in any other movie. Those restrictions poisoned their working relationship forever after. Mifune went on to other, lesser, directors, and Kurosawa in his subsequent seven movies never achieved the acclaim that was showered upon him when Mifune was his star. But their last collaboration is a true work of love, and art. In Red Beard, a smug and arrogant medical student in 19th-century Tokyo comes under the tutelage of a poor clinic doctor (Mifune) and ultimately learns compassion and humility. It takes him three hours in scrumptious black-and-white photography to do it, but he, and eventually we, become better for it. 7 p.m. Museum of Fine Arts, Houston, 1001 Bissonnet. For information, call 713-639-7515 or visit www.mfah.org. $6 to $7.
Fri., Dec. 3, 7 p.m., 2010
 
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