Scandal - Masters of Cinema series [DVD]
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Akira Kurosawa's Scandal as relevant now as when made is a pointed attack on the rising power of the press and their practices in the newly-Americanised postwar Japan of 1950. Kurosawa was outraged by the gutter press' actions, where "personal privacy is never respected", and by how the public's voyeuristic tendency to delve deeper into the lives of celebrities only encouraged this disrespect. Stirred to broaden his film's scope, Kurosawa made the film a study of personal honour, one which highlights the need for ordinary individuals to speak out against injustice and corruption.
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On holiday in the snow-covered mountains, young painter Ichiro Aoye (Toshiro Mifune) has a chance meeting with the popular singer Miyako Saijo (Shirley Yamaguchi). After giving her a ride back to the hotel where they are both staying, Ichiro is photographed with Miyako by paparazzi. A magazine creates an exposé of their 'secret romance' based around this photograph, and the brooding Ichiro ignites a bitter and dirty libel case in order to restore their honour. Scandal stars many great Japanese actors of the time including Noriko Sengoku (Drunken Angel, Seven Samurai) and Takashi Shimura (Ikiru, Seven Samurai), who delivers one of his finest performances as the defence lawyer emotionally torn between right and wrong. Kurosawa's film stands as a fascinating one-man blast against the origins of press intrusion. The Masters of Cinema Series is proud to present Scandal for the first time on home video in the UK.
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Well the film certainly starts of by going with that idea. The main story centers around an artist played by Toshiro Mifune and a picture that is taken of him with a famous singer. They are pictured together by two members of the press who spin it into a big story about how they are romantically involved. Mifune's reaction is to start a propaganda war at first and then later try to sue the magazine for damages. The film goes along at a very quick pace dealing with all this whilst showing us the view from the magazine who printed the story. Even though the film was made in 1950 so is now 62 years old, its depiction of the press and in particular the type of magazine's who make their money from gossip is very similar to what you would expect today.
The film take's a dramatic shift in its focus however when the legal proceedings have been started and Mifune is approached by a lawyer played by Takashi Simura. He wants to represent him and tells him all about how strongly he feels about freedom of the press, the story then follow's him and we get to see what kind of man he is. To say much more would be to spoil the journey that he goes through but it is fascinating and Shimura is fantastic to watch. I honestly think this is one of his very best performances, right up there with Ikiru. The reason I was so surprised by this is that all the descriptions of the film I had read prior to seeing it payed little attention to his character. His story is by far the best part of the film and is worth seeing for him alone.Read more ›
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Fans of Mifune should enjoy this film. It is one of his better performances. Fans of Shimura will likely feel a bit disappointed in his role right out of a soap opera. Kurosawa probably had a lot of fun portraying the celebrity gossip magazine as the unethical "we're just in it for the money" collective group of villans. It's worth watching once.