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The Lower Depths (Criterion Collection) (1936-1957)

Cast: Toshiro Mifune, Toshiro Mifune, Jean Gabin, more...
Director: Akira Kurosawa, Akira Kurosawa, Jean Renoir, more...
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Studio: Criterion
Genre: Drama, Costume Drama/Period Piece, Criterion Collection
Languages: French, Japanese
Subtitles: English
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The Lower Depths (Criterion Collection) (1957)
Japanese filmmaker Akira Kurosawa transferred the setting of Maxim Gorky's play The Lower Depths from Imperial Russia to his own country's Edo Period--which, like Gorky's 19th-century setting, was an era of great cultural advances, offset by the miseries of those who weren't in the aristocracy. Kurosawa's film concentrates on Toshiro Mifune, playing a crooked gambler who falls in love with the sister (Kyoko Kagawa) of his cruel landlady (Isuzu Yamada). Herself carrying a torch for Mifune, the landlady exacts a roundabout revenge by killing her own husband and pinning the blame on the gambler. As the landlady descends into madness, those whom she has treated wretchedly laugh at her plight. Originally titled Donzoko, The Lower Depths was renamed Les Bas-Fonds for its French release--the same title bestowed upon Jean Renoir's 1937 adaptation of the Gorky play. ~ Hal Erickson, All Movie Guide

The Lower Depths (Criterion Collection) (1936)
Voted 1936's best picture by a circle of prestigious French critics, Jean Renoir's The Lower Depths (Les Bas-Fonds) is based on the "gutter" play by Russian author Maxim Gorky. Louis Jouvet plays The Baron, forced by circumstance to give up his life of luxury and to set up residence in the slums of Paris. As Jouvet observes the passing parade, he bears witness to the frustrated romance between Jean Gabin and Junie Astor, the thwarted dreams of actor Robert Le Vigan, and the oppressive cruelties of landlord Vladimir Sokoloff. The Lower Depths surprised Renoir's admirers, who weren't used to seeing the director involve himself in so sordid and depressing a tale. Actually, the project was brought to Renoir by a producer friend of his, who secured the director's services by promising to provide Louis Jouvet and Jean Gabin as the leading actors. Renoir's The Lower Depths would make a fascinating companion piece to Japanese filmmaker Akira Kurosawa's 1957 adaptation of the same Gorky play. ~ Hal Erickson, All Movie Guide

Special features:

  • Audio commentary on Kurosawa's THE LOWER DEPTHS featuring Japanese-film expert Donald Richie (A Hundred Years of Japanese Cinema)
  • A documentary on the making of Kurosawa's THE LOWER DEPTHS, part of the Toho Masterworks series AKIRA KUROSAWA: IT IS WONDERFUL TO CREATE
  • Original theatrical trailer of Kurosawa's THE LOWER DEPTHS
  • New essay by Keiko McDonald (From Book to Screen: Modern Japanese Literature in Films) and Thomas Rimer (A Reader's Guide to Japanese Literature)

GreenCine Member Ratings

The Lower Depths (Criterion Collection) (1957)
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7.31 (42 votes)
The Lower Depths (Criterion Collection) (1936)
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7.38 (39 votes)

No longer can I bathe in your langours O waves
Kurosawa & Mifune
There may have never been a more prolific and rewarding collaboration between star and director in cinema history.

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