Red Beard (1965) is arguably Kurosawa's most humane film, and his probing of the human condition is at its most thorough. Set at the end of the Tokugawa period, a young man learns that he is to work as an intern at a public clinic in the slums of Edo, instead of the court medical staff to which he had aspired. He rebels by refusing to wear a uniform and by purposely breaking the hospital rules. The head of the clinic, Kyojo Niide (aka Red Beard) played by the great Toshiro Mifune, brings the young intern round after an insane patient attempts to murder him. It is Red Beard's hard-nosed thesis of the patient's condition that impresses him, and it is from here that he begins to take up his duties with sincerity, and face the degredation of the city's slums.
Laced with three-dimensional characters, and dialogue that eschews sentimentality, this is an epic concerning the human condition, and was sadly the last film that Kurosawa and Mifune would make together.