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Mental Illness: Major Films  
TitleRed Beard (1965)
Alternative/Original TitleAkahige
DisabilityMental
CountryJapan
Length185
GenrePeriod drama
Rating4
DirectorAkira Kurosawa
CastToshiro Mifune Yuzo Kayama Yoshio Tsuchiya
NotesB/W The film is apparently set in 19th century Japan though it looks to be much earlier. A young doctor visits a hospital in a poor area but unknown to him he has been sent to work there. At first he is deeply resentful but slowly he changes so that by the end when he is offered a prestigious well paid job he turns it down to remain and help the poor. At the bottom of the herb garden a merchant's daughter is kept imprisoned and isolated. She's described as not insane but hysterical. When she escapes she goes to the young doctor for help. she explains how as a child of 9 a clerk did something to her, then another when she's 11 and again when she's 17. She killed the three of them. but as she tells her story she takes out a hairpin and stabs the doctor. The head doctor, Red Beard, (Toshiro Mifune) is quietly philosophical "medical science knows nothing" Poverty is the problem and that is political. The clinic is funded by the government. Red Beard has other responsibilities. He puts a fat lord on a diet. He tries to regulate the local brothel. He says they won't stop using girls with syphilis. While at the brothel he rescues a young girl though not without a Samourai style fight with the gangsters running the brothel. The film is 3 hours long, way too long but there are endearing moments especially those between the rescued girl and a 7 year old thief. His family commit suicide because of their poverty. For those with the patience and commitment the film is rewarding. From the novel "Akahige Shinryo Tan" by Shogoro Yamamoto

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