The Unz Review • An Alternative Media Selection$
A Collection of Interesting, Important, and Controversial Perspectives Largely Excluded from the American Mainstream Media
 BlogviewTrevor Lynch Archive
Review: High & Low by Kurosawa
Email This Page to Someone

 Remember My Information


Bookmark Toggle AllToCAdd to LibraryRemove from Library • B
Show CommentNext New CommentNext New ReplyRead More
ReplyAgree/Disagree/Etc. More... This Commenter This Thread Hide Thread Display All Comments
These buttons register your public Agreement, Disagreement, Thanks, LOL, or Troll with the selected comment. They are ONLY available to recent, frequent commenters who have saved their Name+Email using the 'Remember My Information' checkbox, and may also ONLY be used three times during any eight hour period.
Ignore Commenter Follow Commenter
Search Text Case Sensitive  Exact Words  Include Comments
List of Bookmarks

Like most Westerners, I got to know Akira Kurosawa through his classic samurai films: Seven Samurai, Throne of Blood, The Hidden Fortress, Yojimbo, Sanjuro, Kagemusha, and Ran. Thus I was surprised to discover that fully half of his thirty films are actually set in contemporary Japan over the stretch of Kurosawa’s long lifetime (1910–1998). High and Low (1963) is one of the best of these films, along with Drunken Angel, Stray Dog, and Ikiru.

Many of Kurosawa’s most important Japanese films are actually based on stories by Western writers: Shakespeare, Dostoevsky, Tolstoy, and Gogol chief among them. In the case of High and Low, however, the source is a hard-boiled American crime novel: King’s Ransom by Ed McBain (born Salvatore Lombino), who under the name Evan Hunter was also the screenwriter for Hitchcock’s The Birds.

The Japanese title of High and Low is Tengoku to Jigoku, which literally means “Heaven and Hell.” But High and Low is a good title, because the movie is constructed around the contrasts between a modernist mansion of Kingo Gondo (Toshiro Mifune) which stands alone on a high bluff overlooking Yokohama, and the crowded, chaotic city below.

There is also a contrast between high and low class, understood here as rich and poor. From the point of view of the poor people of Yokohama, however, it is easy to think of Gondo’s lofty mansion—isolated, spacious, starkly modern, and cooled by breezes—as heaven compared to the cramped, noisy, sweltering hell they inhabit. (Kurosawa loves to portray people sweating, fanning themselves, and huddling by electric fans. He must have hated hot weather.)

But these contrasts are not setting you up for a Marxist narrative about the virtuous poor and their wicked capitalist exploiters. Quite the opposite. High and Low is a portrait of a virtuous industrialist who is targeted for destruction by a nihilistic criminal who hails from the professional rather than the working class and is motivated not by need but by envy and pure malice.

Kingo Gondo is not a steel baron or oil tycoon. He is an executive at National Shoes, which makes women’s footwear. But it turns out there is a heroic and manly way to make women’s shoes. Gondo has worked his way up from being an apprentice shoemaker to being a shareholder and executive. He is hosting some of his fellow executives, who wish to enlist him in a corporate coup against the “old man” who founded the company and is stuck in a rut of making unfashionable “army boots.” Gondo’s colleagues wish to manufacture flashy shoes that are cheaply made. Gondo wants to make more fashionable products, but he feels that selling shoddy merchandise is dishonorable and eventually dresses down his colleagues, then tosses them out.

Gondo then explains to his assistant that he has been planning his own takeover of National Shoes, mortgaging himself to the hilt buying up chunks of stock. All he needs is to complete one last purchase. But before he can dispatch his assistant with a check for fifty million yen, he receives a phone call informing him that his son Jun has been kidnapped and demanding thirty million yen in ransom. (This is thirty times higher than the highest recorded ransom.) But when Jun walks into the room, Gondo concludes that the the call was a sick prank. It turns out, however, that the kidnappers have snatched Jun’s playmate, Shinichi, the son of Aoki, who is Gondo’s driver.

This creates a great moral dilemma. Gondo’s first reaction is that he will not pay. It is not his child, after all. Instead, he will complete the deal that he has staked everything on. Surely the kidnapper will be reasonable and let the poor child go. But no, if Gondo does not pay, the child will die. It is an agonizing choice. If he does pay, the child may still die, the money may never be recovered, and Gondo will almost surely be ruined. Eventually, though, Gondo is persuaded by his wife, his driver, and the police to pay the ransom. It is the compassionate thing to do.

At this point, the movie was nearly half over, and it suddenly dawned on me that the film had not yet left Gondo’s house. Most of it has been shot in his vast and sparsely-furnished living room. Thus far, High and Low has been, in effect, a filmed stage play. But Kurosawa is so virtuosic at creating dramatic tension and coaxing out compelling performances that the result is not static at all. High and Low is not just a well-crafted crime drama that was wildly popular with Japanese moviegoers. It is also an a vant garde cinematic experiment—in fact a whole series of them—a fact that most viewers are too enthralled to even notice. It really sneaks up on you.

The ransom sequence takes us from the spacious and static setting of the Gondo mansion to a cramped passenger car on a high-speed express train. Yes, the Japanese had them even in the early-1960s. It is an amazingly tense and dynamic action sequence.

The film then switches gears again into a quasi-documentary about the police’s attempts to find the kidnapper and recover Gondo’s money. At this point, some people might feel the movie drags, but I found the meticulous rationality of the detective work fascinating. From the police’s first appearance at Gondo’s house—disguised as delivery drivers in case the house is under surveillance by the kidnapper—they are impressive in their intelligence, sensitivity, camaraderie, and teamwork. It is a wonderful portrait of what is possible in a homogeneous, high-IQ, high-solidarity society—everything whites have lost by embracing diversity. The kidnapper is the police team’s stark antipode: also highly intelligent, but a solitary, sadistic sociopath.

In the last scenes of High and Low, as the police close in on their quarry, the film shifts style yet again into pure German Expressionist horror then to post-war Existentialism. It is Camus meets Caligari. It is truly a descent from heaven to hell.

The ending is happy but haunting. In this case, justice has triumphed, but at great cost. Evil and chaos will always threaten order and goodness. They will always need to be quelled by brave and rational guardians of public order.

High and Low is clearly an anti-Marxist film. Gondo is a self-made man, who rose to his position due to hard work. He was not born to wealth and privilege. His wife does come from a privileged background, and her dowry certainly helped matters, but he had to win her through hard work and character as well. (Her dowry gives her some clout in the deliberations about whether to pay the ransom.) Gondo puts the integrity of his products above the simple pursuit of profit. He is also willing to court financial ruin when he is convinced that paying the ransom is the right thing to do.

The kidnapper is not driven by want, but merely by resentment. His goal is not simply to take Gondo’s money but to humiliate and destroy him. It is clear that his malice is so deep and irrational that no social reform will ever banish it. In fact, the leftist rhetoric he spouts is simply a tool by which these monsters gain the power to murder millions.

This being a Kurosawa film, vestiges of Japan’s feudal traditions crop up throughout the story. Gondo’s driver Aoki acts like a cringing, servile feudal retainer. This makes Gondo angry. After all, this is modern Japan. Both men come from humble backgrounds. They simply have a business relationship. Why shouldn’t they be on terms of social equality?

But the men are not equal, and the deepest inequality is not financial but a matter of character. Gondo risks his fortune to save the child of his driver. Risking oneself to protect one’s retainers is, of course, the foundation of feudal obligation. Did Aoki understand Gondo better than Gondo understood himself?

The police are faultlessly professional in their dealings with Gondo. One of them confesses a personal prejudice against the rich. But as the detectives observe Gondo’s character—his decision to pay the ransom, his courage, his intelligence, and his unpretentiousness (mowing his own lawn, breaking out his shoemaker’s tools to help modify the briefcases for the ransom)—they are won over, and by the time the ransom has been paid, they have been transformed by sheer admiration into feudal retainers fighting to save their lord from social and financial ruin.

High and Low’s portrayal of a heroic businessman plagued by an envious villain, as well as its celebration of the rationality of the police detectives could almost spring from the pen of Ayn Rand. Gondo and the detectives represent the highest virtues of bourgeois modernity, whereas the kidnapper represents its deepest vice.

But the film’s depiction of how the charisma of leadership springs from the willingness to risk personal ruin for what is right takes us into the entirely different moral realm of aristocratic honor culture. In truth, Gondo’s argument with his colleagues over lowering the quality of their shoes and then his struggle with himself over whether to pay the ransom are versions of Hegel’s primal duel that stakes life itself over matters of honor and sorts men into two types: masters and slaves.


Kurosawa sees truth in both value systems and uses the tension between them to create powerful drama. He uses the same tension to great effect in 1948’s Drunken Angel, the first of his sixteen films with Toshiro Mifune. Kurosawa uses the conflict between samurai honor culture and Buddhist compassion to similar dramatic effect in Rashomon.

High and Low is a masterful fusion of compelling drama, technical virtuosity, and artistic daring. By bringing in deep, serious—ultimately world-shaking—value conflicts, Kurosawa makes high art out of the otherwise low genre of detective fiction. It is one of Kurosawa’s finest works.

• Category: Arts/Letters • Tags: Akira Kurosawa, Japan, Movies 
Hide 24 CommentsLeave a Comment
Commenters to FollowEndorsed Only
Trim Comments?
  1. roo_ster says:

    Must catch this one.

    I grew up in a high iq, high trust monoculture. I forget or do not easily see how my conduct and attitudes have changed in response to americas enstupidation and devolution into a low trust society. To see it plainly, i look at my parents and how they have not adapted and thus fall prey to the jackals in their twilight years.

    I think we have tolerated enough of this foolishness.

  2. @Priss Factor

    I love your posts! Smartest person here.

    I would like also to see Trevor review the movie Gummo interpreted as a portrait of midwestern wignats. What does it signify when the rabbit boy runs up with the cat at the end?

  3. I loved this movie up until the detective scenes started.

  4. High and Low is a portrait of a virtuous industrialist who is targeted for destruction by a nihilistic criminal who hails from the professional rather than the working class and is motivated not by need but by envy and pure malice.

    I wouldn’t go so far as to say he’s virtuous. He was compelled to do the ‘right thing’. If he has something in common with the kidnapper, it is that neither character really understands himself. Gondo did the moral thing, but he’s not really sure what drove him to do it. And even though the criminal tries to justify or explain himself, he doesn’t really know his own heart(or lack of one). After all, the economic argument isn’t very compelling on his part. Though he’s known poverty, he was studying to be a doctor and had something of a future. So, he was driven by something else. An idea? Or was it just the nature he was born with? In RED BEARD, there’s a psycho-woman who goes around seducing and killing men. We learn she was victimized as a child, but Mifune’s character of the wise doctor says that some people are simply born evil or wicked. If that is so, are they to blame for their pathology? If being born-evil is a natural condition in some people, what is to be done? Most likely, even had the kidnapper been affluent and privileged, he still would have had evil in his heart and would have committed other crimes of sociopathic nature. There are surely plenty of white collar criminals and scumbags in the Deep State. But they have the Law on their side and can get away with so much.

    But it turns out there is a heroic and manly way to make women’s shoes. Gondo… is hosting some of his fellow executives, who wish to enlist him in a corporate coup against the “old man” who… is stuck in a rut of making unfashionable “army boots.” Gondo’s colleagues wish to manufacture flashy shoes that are cheaply made. Gondo wants to make more fashionable products, but he feels that selling shoddy merchandise is dishonorable…

    Here Kurosawa was probably making a commentary on the culture as a whole, not least film culture. HIGH AND LOW came out when Japanese cinema was coming under serious competition from TV. Also, with rising prosperity, the culture was changing from post-war humanism & moralism to consumerism, hedonism, & even nihilism. Given the wreckage of war and widespread poverty, the humanist themes/message in fiction and movies had resonated with many Japanese audiences. But as in Europe, the rise of La Dolce Vita outlook led to people hankering for style and fashion than morality and sobriety. And some even regarded YOJIMBO as a nod in this direction; it was a huge hit in Japan and inspired the nihilistic FISTFUL OF DOLLARS that changed film history, not necessarily for the better(though Sergio Leone was a true giant). But beneath the veneer of nihilistic ‘cool’, YOJIMBO was meant as morality tale and satire, and Kurosawa was dispirited by the changing in the culture, especially among the young. On the one hand, he understood that Japanese cinema could not rehash the same humanist messages that had special meaning for post-war Japanese audiences. He understood people wanted popular culture with more color and excitement. And in a way, HIGH AND LOW is the kind of shoes that Gondo is talking about. It is about serious themes but made with remarkable style and suspense.

    Kurosawa was feeling the pressure. Not only from the rapidly rising popularity of TV but from a younger generation of film-makers with more of a ‘new wave’ approach. Two years prior to HIGH AND LOW, Shohei Imamura made PIGS AND BATTLESHIPS set in a similar cultural milieu, though mostly of ‘hell’ or the ‘low’. There’s a devil-may-care sensibility in Imamura’s film that lends it nuance and flexibility missing in Kurosawa’s work that, despite ‘modernist’ touches, is essentially a moral drama(which at times comes close to melodrama). Kurosawa wears the themes on his sleeves, as with Otto Preminger, and it could be off-putting to subtler sensibilities(which is why many cineastes never tire of telling everyone they prefer Ozu, Mizoguchi, Naruse, or etc. over Kurosawa). Imamura’s films have a licentious curiosity and creativity, leaving the meaning up to the audience to piece together on their own. In a mercurial way, Imamura just runs with the idea and takes it wherever it may, whereas Kurosawa projects a moral map in an Apollonian manner. Like Ingmar Bergman and Federico Fellini, Kurosawa came into his own in the humanist 50s and was somewhat at odds with the newly emerging film sensibility of the 60s though YOJIMBO did play a role in defining it. While more audiences were turning to TV, more critics were shifting their attention to younger talents like Nagisa Oshima, Hiroshi Teshigahara, and Imamura. Another problem was Kurosawa, like David Lean, got so accustomed to scale that he was unwilling to adapt to changing times and a more fleet-footed way of making films. Kurosawa wanted to stick with established conventions of major film-making, albeit with nods to fashion. He wanted to make fancier boots than high heels, and sadly, HIGH AND LOW was the last of its kind for Kurosawa. The next film RED BEARD was an excellent boot but very much an old boot.

    Incidentally, the stuff about plotting to overthrow the ‘old man’ in the opening of HIGH AND LOW later re-emerges with RAN where the two older sons plot against the father while the youngest son, though seemingly hot-headed and rebellious, has principles.

    I prefer Kurosawa’s morality plays to Imamura’s anthropological forays, but the didacticism had a somewhat rigid and limiting effect on Kurosawa’s work. Though Kurosawa’s imagination widely wandered from the world of the high to the low, his lens always focused on the good and the bad, honorable and dishonorable, teacher and student, noble and ignoble. He was unwilling to just see people and accept them as they are. His vision always had a moral vertebrae lending shape and structure from head to tail. The stuff good vs evil and heroes & villains that audiences can readily recognize. But perhaps a closer consideration of humanity requires increased malleability in observation and inspection. Imamura was like an octopus. Lacking the rigidity of backbone, he could slither in and out of all kinds of human situations without moral judgement though his works are not without moral sense. VENGEANCE IS MINE, for example, is the kind of film that Kurosawa could not have made. Kurosawa tries to confront the evil of the kidnapper/murderer in HIGH AND LOW but hits a brick wall. The man is evil and beyond comprehension. He can only be judged and condemned. There is a limit to human understanding, as with the woodcutter and priest in opening of RASHOMON who simply cannot penetrate the mystery of human darkness. In contrast, Imamura quietly slipped into the decrepit souls of the characters in PIGS AND BATTLESHIPS and VENGEANCE IS MINE and observed like a naturalist. A special kind of skill, to be sure, but discomfiting to many.

    Gondo then explains to his assistant that he has been planning his own takeover of National Shoes, mortgaging himself to the hilt buying up chunks of stock. All he needs is to complete one last purchase.

    This suggest Gondo isn’t exactly virtuous. Though clearly more admirable than his partners, he’s not above backroom deals and intrigue to gain the upper hand. Perhaps, he’s justified in his maneuvers, but he’s also driven by egotism and pride.

    If he does pay, the child may still die, the money may never be recovered, and Gondo will almost surely be ruined. Eventually, though, Gondo is persuaded by his wife, his driver, and the police to pay the ransom. It is the compassionate thing to do.

    It is a bit more complicated. There is the matter of public opinion. If Gondo doesn’t pay the ransom and uses the money to take over the company, he will get such bad press that he will be ruined anyway. It’s really a case of damned if you do, damned if you don’t. So, even though he was surely motivated by his conscience, he really didn’t have a choice. Either way, he would have been ruined. A man is not an island but lives in a community. If the community rejects the man as immoral, the man becomes an outcast. There is some of this in the dynamics of ‘woke capital’, the difference being that whereas Gondo was faced with a real moral dilemma and really did what was right, most of ‘woke capital’ is either just delusional or craven in sucking up to PC narrative pushed by insane Jewish Supremacists. (I mean, when will ‘woke capital’ push ‘Palestinian Lives Matter’ or ‘Justice for Libyans and Syrians destroyed by Obama and Hillary’ or ‘Sanction Israel that has nukes and stop sanctioning Iran that has NO nukes’?)
    As in IKIRU, we don’t really know the motivation behind Gondo. He doesn’t really know either. Was he truly motivated by conscience or did he do the right thing because he couldn’t win either way? Likewise, was the old man in IKIRU really motivated by compassion or did his ego seek validation before he died? Was it really selfless or was it about the self, the need to be remembered?

    Thus far, High and Low has been, in effect, a filmed stage play. But Kurosawa is so virtuosic at creating dramatic tension and coaxing out compelling performances that the result is not static at all.

    An odd thing about HIGH AND LOW is that the ‘stage play’ opening of the film is more exciting and suspenseful than the latter part of the movie that is outdoors and full of movement. Oddly, the interior scenes are less static than the exterior ones.

    The film then switches gears again into a quasi-documentary about the police’s attempts to find the kidnapper and recover Gondo’s money. At this point, some people might feel the movie drags, but I found the meticulous rationality of the detective work fascinating.

    For first-time viewers, it won’t drag because of the element of mystery and suspense. But for repeat-viewing, some of the later scenes with detective work do drag because they are presented more like docu-drama procedural than psychological drama. (In contrast, Fritz Lang’s M is compelling from start to finish no matter how many times you watch it.) It would have been more interesting if Kurosawa developed the detectives as fully-realized characters than social ideals. They strike me as too-good-to-be-true, too upright. Kurosawa mocked such earnestness in the young samurai in SANJURO, but the police of HIGH AND LOW are to be taken as the best of the best. For this reason, the darker aspects of the police work doesn’t register as powerfully. After all, the police could have arrested the kidnapper but prolong the pursuit to charge him with a more serious crime(because the punishment for kidnapping in Japan wasn’t very serious then, though the film helped to change the law). As a result, the kidnapper ends up killing another person, a female junkie. This raises a ethical question as to whether the police acted professionally or out of vendetta against the criminal, especially as the head detective became personally invested in bringing justice to Gondo, who did the right thing at great cost. His personal feelings about Gondo may have affected his professional decision, leading to the death of a woman.

    It is a wonderful portrait of what is possible in a homogeneous, high-IQ, high-solidarity society—everything whites have lost by embracing diversity.

    This is questionable. Japan has been called a high-trust society, but it’s more a high-conformist and high-obedience society, though these days perhaps not even that. Japanese justice system has been notorious for being unresponsive to problems until things get really bad. Also, the caste-mentality and strong sense of hierarchy have led to distrust among the people. After all, the film is called HEAVEN AND HELL or High and Low. Japanese with privilege don’t care about the rest. Their attitude is “I got mine”. Why is Japan dying? Because Japanese look down on dirty, dangerous, and degrading labor. Japanese would rather die than do ‘dirty’ work. In the past, many Japanese just accepted their lot and did whatever job available but affluence led to higher expectations among many Japanese, and they’d rather commit national suicide and import cheap labor than do ‘dirty’ jobs. In BAD SLEEP WELL, Kurosawa exposed the hollowness of the cult of trust in Japan. While underlings sacrifice their lives for their bosses, the latter just hoard everything for themselves. The rich care about family members but lack any sense of larger good or national interest.

    High and Low is clearly an anti-Marxist film.

    While it’s not a Marxist film, it isn’t anti-Marxist either. It might be called ‘national socialist’ with little ‘n’ and ‘s’. It is about a rich man who comes to look beyond class and privilege and embraces the child of his servant as if his own. He goes from capitalist mindset and family concerns to national and humanist consciousness. This was the positive side of National Socialism and New Deal. This theme, of the high and mighty being forced to recognize the humanity of those below them in status, recurs throughout Kurosawa’s works. In SEVEN SAMURAI, the ronin are masterless knights but they are still higher in social rank than the lowly peasants. Initially the samurai feel it’s beneath them to risk their lives for dirty peasants, but the two groups join forces against the bandits. In MEN WHO TREAD ON TIGER’S TAIL and HIDDEN FORTRESS, noblemen in exile disguise themselves as commoners and come to see the other side of society. Kurosawa as a young man had communist sympathies and even as late as the 1970s, he had glowing things to say about Lenin(to Andrei Konchalovsky’s horror).

    In films like BAD SLEEP WELL, RED BEARD, and YOJIMBO, merchants don’t come across as people with noble qualities. And yet, Kurosawa could see things from both sides. As such, HIGH AND LOW makes an interesting contrast with BAD SLEEP WELL. The latter film is about the evil of greed, whereas the hero of the former is a businessman tormented by an impoverished medical student. Thus, good and evil isn’t a matter of class(though it seems those who gain great wealth or power tend to be on the sociopathic side: take the loathsome Jeff Bezos and the scum in the Deep State; on the other hand, consider all the lumpen scum who loot and burn; 2020 is the year of synergy between elite deep state and lowly street scum, with horrendous consequences; for sure, the convergence of sociopaths on top and psychopaths on the bottom is recipe for disaster). Kurosawa had socialist-humanist leanings but also had an elitist streak, not least because of his samurai background. It’s like Oliver Stone is a man of the Left but with a Great Man Complex: Tony Montana, Gordon Gekko, Alexander the Great. Kurosawa found humanism in the lower depths but also nobility in the higher reaches. KAGEMUSHA is kind of a reverse of HIDDEN FORTRESS. A vulgar thief comes to appreciate and ultimately die for the lofty honor of the Takeda clan.

    In fact, the leftist rhetoric he spouts is simply a tool by which these monsters gain the power to murder millions.

    There’s an element of leftism but also nihilism. He tries to convince Gondo and himself that he doesn’t care if he dies. He claims to be unafraid of anything and above human emotions, but he breaks down with a fury and desperation that is all too human, even animal. The final moment is harrowing because the would-be-nihilist finally realizes his humanity, its fragility and weakness. It’s been said of Kamikaze pilots that they died beautifully and poetically without fear, for country and emperor. But it’s been recorded that many charged to their deaths scared out of their minds screaming for mother. In the end, they were human after all.

    In their meeting, the kidnapper realizes that Gondo is not the monster that he made him out to be, imagined him to be, indeed willed him to be. Seeing the big mansion from below, the kidnapper created his own impression of Gondo. Since greed is a common feature among the rich, the kidnapper created an essentialist view of Gondo as a parasite. In a way, it might have pleased the kidnapper IF Gondo hadn’t paid the ransom and let the child die. Then, the kidnapper would have been vindicated in his view of Gondo. But Gondo paid. Gondo did the ‘leftist’ thing in favoring the life of a servant than profits. In contrast, the kidnapper ended up taking money in exchange for the life of a poor man’s son.
    Perhaps, the kidnapper would have been more pleased if Gondo had been bitter toward him in their meeting. Instead, the kidnapper sees a decent man and has to face the fact that he ruined the life of a man, not a monster. Thus, the kidnapper loses something more dear to him than his life: His radical illusion based on a delusion. Sadly, such deluded conviction is now the official ideology of the US. Any black person is morally justified in seeing every white person as ‘racist’, ‘fragile’, ‘privileged’, or whatever. The fantasy of righteous hate takes precedence over reality and complexity. Thus, the whole nation has been taken hostage by lunatics led by insane Jewish supremacists.

    High and Low’s portrayal of a heroic businessman plagued by an envious villain, as well as its celebration of the rationality of the police detectives could almost spring from the pen of Ayn Rand. Gondo and the detectives represent the highest virtues of bourgeois modernity, whereas the kidnapper represents its deepest vice.

    I don’t know about this. Ayn Rand was not about bourgeois values but radical individualism. Ayn Rand might have sneered at Gondo’s decision to pay the ransom as sappy ‘altruism’. Granted, Randism at its core isn’t really about ‘muh profits’. In THE FOUNTAINHEAD, Peter Keating does the profitable thing by whoring out to public taste whereas Howard Roark faces many hardships and bouts of poverty. Still, he has Rand’s respect because he has a vision and never compromises. But HIGH AND LOW isn’t about that. Its morality is closer to IT’S A WONDERFUL LIFE where an individual with visibly superior qualities sacrifices his individual interest for what is moral, what is good for the community. Would such outlook have sat well with Ayn Rand? Rand surely would have told George Bailey to leave dinky Bedford Falls and follow his dream like Howard Roark.

    HIGH AND LOW might make for an interesting comparison with the Oscar-winner PARASITE. Both are about class differences and tensions. The difference is, whereas HIGH AND LOW offers some hope of mutual understanding between the classes on the basis of nationalism and humanism, there is nothing to salvage in PARASITE where society and culture are utterly soulless, bloodless, and gutless.

    HIGH AND LOW diagnosed the problems of its day festering into the future if untreated. Prosperity was welcome but had a divisive effect on the Japanese who, due to war and deprivation, had shared in the hardships together as a nation. Class divisions are inevitable in any society but threaten the danger of a sense of national identity and unity. Today, we see this problem all over the world. Western elites no longer feel any sense of unity or solidarity with their racial brethren. They are too busy snubbing white masses as ‘racist’ or virtue-signaling about homos, Negroes, and Diversity. And much the same is happening in Japan. Its merchant elites have turned Japan into a soulless consumer society. With its adoption of globo-homo, afro-globo, mass immigration, and irreversible decline in birthrates, Japan is doomed like the West.
    There’s a harrowing scene of druggies in HIGH AND LOW, and fast-forward to today, and look at the problems of drugs all over the world. Massive addiction to legal and illegal drugs. Mass white deaths from opioids(but white lives don’t matter in Jewish Supremacist America where countless brain-dead whites worship George Floyd the Fentanyl Negro.) Entire cultures centered on drugs and fantasy of escapism. Junkies seek insta-heaven with easy highs but fall deeper into the pits of hell.
    HIGH AND LOW also shows the problem of US imperialism and all the vices it spreads. Surely, the most outrageous scene is in the nightclub where some monster-sized Negro with a big ass fattened with countless buckets of fried chicken keep trying to land a five with his big fat hand on everyone. Japan as whore nation to the US. A memorable Ugly American scene. Against drugs, nihilism, and mindless hedonism Kurosawa offered a vision of life and economy centered on honest work, family, and morality. At one time, such values were easily recognized by most, but today, they are shocking and scandalous in a world of the New Normal where the highest morality is LGBT marching with BLM to push utterly delusional visions of reality. In the end, Kurosawa’s warnings came to naught, and modern civilization all around the world is one big suicide cult.

    • Thanks: fnn
  5. @Priss Factor

    Imamura’s “The Profound Desire of the Gods” is a real hoot, too. A sort of divine sloppiness, WC Fields as scripted by Brendan Behan.

    • Replies: @Priss Factor
  6. ‘… they are impressive in their intelligence, sensitivity, camaraderie, and teamwork. It is a wonderful portrait of what is possible in a homogeneous, high-IQ, high-solidarity society—everything whites have lost by embracing diversity…’

    …sort of. This also has to do with how obsessively polite the Japanese are.

    That’s pretty pleasant most of the time, but it can become exasperating if there is in fact some point of discord that one would like to get definitively resolved in reasonably short order.

    I’ve visited Japan, and I liked and admired it immensely — it’s very high on my ‘I want to go there again’ list. However, as with every place, there are drawbacks. We won’t get to heaven just by copying Japan.

  7. @The Germ Theory of Disease

    PROFOUND DESIRES is one of the greatest epics of all time. Released around the same time as 2001, ONCE UPON A TIME IN THE WEST, MARKETA LAZAROVA. and PLAYTIME.

  8. Dumbo says:

    It’s very good, even if I prefer The Bad Sleep Well. Mifune is a genius actor.

  9. I just watched this movie last week after purchasing it a couple months ago. Quite a coincidence. I thought it was excellent. You can really see the blueprint for police procedurals.
    I must admit, I was upset early on just after the cops got involved. It seemed obvious to me that the other executives at National Shoes must have masterminded the kidnapping so that Mifune would have no money to make a move. I thought the cops were foolish to not pursue that angle. I suppose that would have been too hamfisted for Kurosawa.
    Definitely worth seeing.

  10. It seemed obvious to me that the other executives at National Shoes must have masterminded the kidnapping so that Mifune would have no money to make a move. I thought the cops were foolish to not pursue that angle.

    But as the execs explain when the police question them, they came to Gondo’s house to hatch a plot against the ‘old man’. They came to work with him. They didn’t expect Gondo to be so hot-headed and defiant. Also, they were in the dark about Gondo’s secret maneuvers against them. So, Gondo doesn’t suspect them. Also, the police arrive after the row between Gondo and execs, and only gradually do they learn about the tension at the company, especially due to the flunky with second thoughts about the check.

    My problem with the film is that the execs are reduced to paper-thin scoundrels to make Gondo so much better. It would have been more interesting if the execs were presented as men with reasonable motives of their own. After all, they are selling women’s shoes, the kind women don’t intend to wear for too long. Shoddy boots are a bad idea, but shoddy women’s shoes make sense given women’s shoes change with fashion, which changes every year. Also, there is the high-end market and low-end market. A lot of people buy stuff that they don’t intend to keep for long.

    Indeed, Gondo and others could have compromised. Make high-end quality shoes at higher price and make cheap shoes for low-end market. Why not both? It’s like Hollywood made both A movies and B movies.

    In RAN, while the two older sons are nasty characters, we can at least understand their motives that aren’t purely scoundrel-ous. They aren’t merely being nasty and saying, ‘we are a**holes’. The oldest son isn’t very bright and has only position to stake his authority. The second son is smart and feels the power should really go to him. They are bad but understandable. In contrast, the execs in HIGH AND LOW are merely shallow jerks, and that’s about it. Now, there are real people are little more than shallow jerks, but in HIGH AND LOW, such characterizations seem too easy a way to make Gondo look good by contrast. There’s an element of cheap shot.

    The great thing about SEVEN SAMURAI is that even the most craven and despicable peasant, the father of the pretty girl, is utterly understandable on human terms. And he’s not entirely wrong in his arguments and in his feelings. HIGH AND LOW doesn’t reach so high.

  11. The Japanese title of High and Low… literally means “Heaven and Hell.” But High and Low is a good title, because the movie is constructed around the contrasts between a modernist mansion… and the crowded, chaotic city below.

    While HIGH AND LOW as title is certainly workable, it misses at the bigger meaning of the film. ‘High’ and ‘Low’ indicate differences in wealth and status, but Kurosawa finds something darker than mere economic hardship and poverty. One can be in the low world but not in hell. ‘Hell’ is a moral and spiritual condition. Kurosawa’s earlier films showed much poverty. But in ONE WONDERFUL SUNDAY where a couple barely have enough money for a cup of coffee, they are still in a kind of heaven than hell because they have each other.

    The hell in HIGH AND LOW is not the world of the poor. It’s a state of mind, the destruction of souls. The film goes from the rich world to the world of the poor, but we still don’t see hell. We see hell when we meet the kidnapper and the world of addiction. We also see hell in the raucous night club scene. Now, hedonism isn’t necessarily hellish, and every city has(and even needs) something like a Red-Light District, but there’s something especially sleazy about the night-club scene and not because of some gorilla-like big-ass Negro fattened on fried chicken. It is a vision of Japan as un-Japan, a zone not only of military occupation but cultural degeneration. The racial mix in the club are united only by noise, rancor, and amnesia. (It’s different from the folk music in HIDDEN FORTRESS that confirm the community.) Now, if such stuff can be restricted to the Red-Light District, it wouldn’t be so bad, but such Americanism came to serve as the blueprint for ALL OF CULTURE and ALL OF SOCIETY and ALL AROUND THE WORLD, a hellish vision of the Kalergi Plan of no borders, no limits, no thoughts of past or future but just the thrill of the jungle moment. What is the main expression of Western Civilization today? ‘Twerking’. At least the Twist(seen in the movie) was a half-decent kind of dance.

    So, using ‘low’ than ‘hell’ misses what the film is ultimately about. It’s about something worse than poverty of means. It’s about the poverty of the soul. In this respect, HIGH AND LOW is a more lavish variation of STRAY DOG where the gun-thief and his girlfriend have adopted a kind of nihilism. Indeed, the scenes of arrests of the criminals in the two films are similar. They are handcuffed amidst flowers and reminders of innocence lost.

    Also, ‘heaven’ lends a special meaning that ‘high’ simply misses. It adds an element of irony for the ‘heavenly’ world of the high is filled with its own demons. And in a way, the problems of ‘heaven’ is connected to ‘hell’. While the kidnapper was likely born evil or had a childhood so bitter & painful that he went crazy, he is also the product of New Japan as created as part of the US empire with the collaboration of the merchant and war-criminal class. Initially, US Occupation worked with the Japanese Left against the Militarist Right. But things soon changed as China turned communist and Soviet Union became the main rival of US power. Also, the Japanese Left got too radical and demanding. So, the US rehabilitated many militarist elites who’d earlier been accused of war crimes. So, many of the militarist elites who’d once sworn to fight the US to the last man were working as toadies, which ended up creating, more or less, a one-party system in Japan totally loyal to the US. As such, there was no national theme in Japan but economic growth and materialism. It was all about the Money, and the kidnapper is someone who grew up under the new system. Of course, his crime is his own. After all, most Japanese, regardless of circumstances, didn’t go around committing crimes or kidnapping kids. Still, his soullessness is part of the larger disease flowing from those on top. Just like the corrupt businessmen in BAD SLEEP WELL are capable of ANYTHING to get what they want, the kidnapper follows the same logic. The differences is that those with privilege and connections can pull strings and get away with it. In contrast, low-level criminals when caught must face justice.

    …as the detectives observe Gondo’s character—his decision to pay the ransom, his courage, his intelligence, and his unpretentiousness (mowing his own lawn, breaking out his shoemaker’s tools to help modify the briefcases for the ransom)—they are won over

    To be sure, he mows his own lawn because he was fired from the company and has too much time on his hands. Ideally, he should be at work and his servant would do the lawn work.


    Gondo is a self-made man, who rose to his position due to hard work. He was not born to wealth and privilege. His wife does come from a privileged background, and her dowry certainly helped matters, but he had to win her through hard work and character as well.

    Right. The thing about Gondo is we mustn’t see him only as a businessman. He rose up the ranks and became a businessman, but he began as an apprentice and worker on the shop floor. So, he’s the full package. He knows the business from low to high. He paid his dues. He didn’t inherit some high position from a rich father. So, Gondo has the consciousness of prole, craftsman, professional, and businessman.
    In a way, it could be Kurosawa’s commentary on how he became a director. Before Film Studies in universities, film-makers rose up the ranks by doing just about everything. They mopped floors, served as extras, learned various skills and tricks on the job. This was true of men like Raoul Walsh and John Ford. While young film-makers today must also work up the ladder, they develop more of a privileged mindset because they enter the profession through college courses. They begin with a cerebral outlook and seek to specialize as writers, producers, or directors. But in Kurosawa’s time, you had to work yourself from the shop floor. You began like the privates in FULL METAL JACKET, as grunts and maggots. Same with newspapers. Before elite college kids filled the ranks of journalism, many had entered the profession through experience. Now, the Film School system isn’t necessarily bad. It did produce great directors like Francis Ford Coppola and Martin Scorsese, among others. But, psychologically at least, it’s about going from high to high than working from low to high.

    So, characterizing Gondo primarily as a ‘businessman’ would be misleading. The workers in the factory seem to respect him despite his hot temper because he knows the industry from shop floor to high office. Still, as a businessman, he’s far from virtuous and is capable of gambling everything and acting like a shark. Though his partners aren’t saints, his underhanded plot to take over the company was ethically dubious. (Also, Gondo didn’t only plot against the partners but against the ‘old man’ who, though behind the times, seems a man of principle in product quality. The bigger question is why would the ‘old man’, who stodgily insists on the old way, cooperate with unscrupulous short-term profiteers? I suppose the latter could be more shameless in flattering the ‘old man’ in his presence, much like the older sons in RAN who win the approval of their father while planning his demise.) Worse, without consulting his wife, Gondo put up the family house up as collateral to acquire the loans, thereby risking everything in a daring move to take over the company. Because he bet so much, his fall is especially hard when he must pay the ransom. In a way, he’s a victim of his own hubris, despite the fact that his vision of the company was nobler than that of his partners.

    The ending is happy but haunting. In this case, justice has triumphed, but at great cost. Evil and chaos will always threaten order and goodness.

    Can the ending be said to be ‘happy’? Sure, the criminal is caught and brought to justice, but the final scene is grim. Also, by ‘evil and chaos’ threatening the order, what if the very order breeds such evil and chaos(especially of the soul)? In a way, the kidnapper is an agent of evil and chaos. In another way, he is the product of the New Order, a Japan of materialism without a soul. A nation whose survival and livelihood depend on playing whore to US imperialism. Japan gained tremendous economic benefits as a vassal of the US, but what did it lose?
    Before defeat, Japan was plagued with a different kind of evil. This Japan did have a soul. It did have a meaningful connection to the past. The Emperor represented the Japanese people’s connection to their history and to their island nation as not merely a piece of rock but sacred homeland. Through the Emperor, Japanese blood was one with Japanese soil. But with Japan as an imperialist power in its own right, the Yamato spirit had grown cancerous and risked everything. In doing so, it committed great crimes all over Asia and got embroiled with war with US(and then USSR) and then lost everything and had to start from ground zero as the Tokyo Shoeshine Boy and Mamasan of the US. In a way, Gondo’s attempted putsch and the son’s overly ambitious battle plan at the end of KAGEMUSHA have something in common with Japanese imperial ambitions. They put all the eggs in one basket, took a huge gamble, and lost everything. Still, militarist Japan stood for something. Japanese people were bound together, high and low, not only by material need but a sense of national culture and spiritual connection to the past.

    With defeat and under US occupation, there were surely great gains in freedoms and economic development. Lots of good positive stuff in many walks of life. But a people cannot live with bread and liberty alone. They need meaning, connection, and pride as a people, and that was totally lost. The new elites of Japan promoted this soulless Japan, and in a way, the kidnapper’s attack on the rich could be, on some subconscious level, a strike against their perfidy. After all, in a nation with meaning, even the poor might feel some ‘spiritual’ connection to the rulers. In his autobiography, Kurosawa said he despised the military dictatorship during the war(and didn’t believe in the literal divinity of Hirohito), but if the Emperor had told the people to commit mass ritual suicide, he would have. What this suggests was that pre-defeat Japan, though defined by some very dark atavistic ideas, was a nation of meaning. There was some real connection between the rulers and the ruled.

    In contrast, the kidnapper, like most Japanese of postwar Japan, has no soulful connection with Japanese leaders or Japanese nation. Japan is just a marketplace, or worse, a big brothel. Japanese are no longer part of a tree but mere mushrooms growing on rotting wood, which seems to be the theme of ATTACK OF THE MUSHROOM PEOPLE(which came out the same year as HIGH AND LOW). Just like underwater atomic blast unleashed Godzilla, it seems something about the New Order made way for the monstrous soul of the kidnapper, especially as he’s meant to be more than a mere individual. He stands as an archetype of soul-malaise, as the inspector stands for duty, dedication, and professionalism.
    In BAD SLEEP WELL, Kurosawa felt nothing but contempt for undying loyalty based on profits. Why should underlings sacrifice their lives for men who stand for nothing but money? But in KAGEMUSHA, despite the oppressive and unjust ways(by modern standards) of the feudal order, Kurosawa is willing to empathize. It is an order of culture, tradition, and meaning, indeed one that so moves the thief that, in the end, he chooses to die for it though he could have chosen to live out his life as a free man without attachment. (The pathology of the killer in VENGEANCE IS MINE is also associated with the theme of weakness. Not only is the killer living in post-defeat Japan but he was raised by a Christian father who seemed so weak and pathetic. It’s as if the son over-compensates as the absolute opposite of his father. His characterization is both more mundane and terrifying than the kidnapper in HIGH AND LOW. Whereas the kidnapper is a damaged soul, a man-turned-monster by whatever reasons, the killer of Imamura’s film defies all labels and brands but is nothing more or less than a man. And if the kidnapper, on some level, can feel his own sickness and feel normal human emotions — no matter how much he represses them — , the psycho in VENGEANCE truly unnerves us as evidence that man can be so far removed from human values but still seem so human.)

    But in a nation without meaning, the rich are simply rich and the poor are simply poor. Consider the new West. In the past, despite class tensions, white folks of a national community might have felt some cultural and spiritual link with their rulers. Today, there is only status for the rich and resentment among the poor. Indeed, if the mob rounded up rich globalist urbanites and threw them into a bonfire, would most of us care? As much as I loathe BLM and Antifa, I watched with pleasure as they ransacked parts of Manhattan and boutique stores around L.A. In a way, Antifa’s embrace of BLM is a reaction to white elite’s embrace of Magic Negro and Diversity. White elites have been telling the white masses, “You are a bunch of ‘racists’, and we GOOD white elites care about blacks and diversity.” Antifa, filled with ranks of ‘white trash’ with some education, romp around with a twist of the white elite logic. Antifa whites in the streets say, “We embrace black rage and attack privileged blue cities filled with white elite privilege.” Elites used pro-blackness as fancy perfume. Antifa uses pro-blackness as Molotov Cocktail. Elites want to pretend it’s mostly about ‘peaceful protesters’, but reality says otherwise. (Amusingly enough, the elites are trying to unite BLM with globo-homo in the hope that all that ‘gay’ stuff may pacify black rage somewhat. Don’t be so black with rage, wave the colorful rainbow with smiley face. And let’s sing about black trannies for a change.)

    White America once seemed the model for all the world, but it has proven to be a delusion, something that can be discerned in HIGH AND LOW. What has this White America done in the post-WWII period? It ceded power to Jewish globalists and defined its core culture as youth culture based on black rhythms. It favored short-term thrills over long-term virtue. Fast-forward to 2020, and White America is a trashy, soulless culture that either marches with globo-homo and BLM thuggery or cravenly cowers its head while its heritage, statues, monuments, and symbols are torn down everywhere. If this is the fate of White Americanism, why should any majority population follow down the same path? In a way, the white-cuck elites of the GOP are like post-war Japanese elites that chose to play dog to the US as long as it received regular doggy biscuits. GOP is now a useless cuck-party whose only purpose is to cower before Jews and play roll over as lons as the cuck-collaborator insiders get their doggy treats. The White American Model to all the world is “Surrender your identity, body, and soul to the worship of Jewish globalists, decadent homos, and wild Negroes.”
    This is why neither capitalism nor leftism cannot serve as the Core Principle of a People and Culture. Capitalism is useful as economic system, and leftism can do good by emphasizing some measure of equal justice and people’s interests. But capitalism ultimately comes down to ‘muh profits’, and leftism, in its puritanical obsession with justice-and-more-justice, ends up waging endless war on all culture and tradition that doesn’t satisfy the latest demands. Thus, ideally capitalism and leftism must revolve around something else. It’s no wonder that Jews have chosen a kind of national-socialism for themselves while pushing either soulless capitalism(or libertarianism) or ‘leftism’ on everyone else. Libertarian whites will never unite as white people as they’re all about ‘muh individualism’, and ‘leftist’ whites will be too obsessed with stamping out ‘white privilege’ and ‘racism’ to ever develop a sense of white identity or white culture. As for conservatism, it can only say ‘oh, please stop’, as Bill Buckley did. Only neo-fascism can save a people, and that is why Jews, despite all their diatribes against ‘fascism’, practice a form of fascism for themselves. But it’s a bad kind like German National Socialism because it’s imperialist and supremacist than national-humanist. Still, Jews understand the need to fuse respect for Jewish tradition/identity with room for individualism and acceptance of modernity.

    One thing that might disturb some viewers about HIGH AND LOW is the presentation of capital punishment as just desserts for the kidnapper. The inspector played by Tatsuya Nakadai is presented as an admirable character, and it is his idea to convict the kidnapper on murder as well, thereby sending him to the gallows than merely have him serve fifteen years for holding a child hostage. Was Kurosawa okay with capital punishment? If so, maybe it had something to do with his samurai background. After all, Japanese culture is one where it’s worth dying for honor. Then, death is surely an option for a unrepentant psychotic punk.

    It is also an avant garde cinematic experiment—in fact a whole series of them—a fact that most viewers are too enthralled to even notice. It really sneaks up on you.

    Kurosawa’s modernist touches were only that: touches. HIGH AND LOW has traditional narrative conventions with some fresh elements, but it is far from avant-garde, which reached its artistic peaks with Hiroshi Teshigahara’s FACE OF ANOTHER and perhaps Yoshishige Yoshida’s EROS + MASSACRE, which isn’t easy watching. Seijun Suzuku got canned for his avant-garde experiment BRANDED TO KILL and later returned to modernism with the TAISHO TRILOGY. There is a fresh and exciting quality to HIGH AND LOW, and in it one can see seeds of movies like THE FRENCH CONNECTION, which too is essentially conventional storytelling for the most part. HIGH AND LOW is even less avant-garde than THE MANCHURIAN CANDIDATE and DR. STRANGELOVE, both of which stick mostly with conventional narrative form.

    Now, some people think modernism is like a linear progression, something more ‘advanced’. But while modernism created whole new possibilities and pushed boundaries, the arts can’t be judged like science. We can value Picasso and Stavinsky, but the notion that their works are ‘more advanced’ than those of Botticelli and Wagner is one of those unfortunate conceits that did much to undermine art and creativity. Consider the damage done to serious music by music departments controlled by modernists who insisted on certain ‘radical’ schools of music as the ‘most advanced’. Modernism is most painful when those who don’t really get it apply it inappropriately to works that don’t have a genuine modernist bone in its body… like Kurosawa’s ridiculous color schemes in DODES’KA-DEN.

    Perhaps, Kurosawa got confused with modernism because of RASHOMON with its unusual(at the time) chronology. But in fact, Kurosawa gave a rather conventional treatment to a genuine piece of modernist writing by Akutagawa. To be sure, Kurosawa did revolutionize film-making. No one did action like Kurosawa in SEVEN SAMURAI, a hugely influential film. And YOJIMBO’s sardonic sensibility was new in cinema. And in films like IKIRU, HIGH AND LOW, DERSU UZALA, and later RAN, Kurosawa chose the somewhat unconventional approach of reaching the dramatic peak before the first half and then spending the rest of the film to return, re-examine, and/or resolve the issues. In the more conventional dramatics of SEVEN SAMURAI, the tension builds and builds until reaching crescendo in the final scene. In IKIRU, HIGH AND LOW, DERSU UZALA, and RAN, the emotional peak is reached in the first third or half of the film, and for that reason, some viewers might find the rest of the film anticlimactic. Stanley Kauffmann much admired IKIRU but thought the long funeral scene where the guests piece the puzzle together overlong and redundant. The emotional peak of DERSU UZALA is when the Goldi hunter bids farewell to the Russian explorers, and therefore the story following the reunion unfolds more like a long aftermath than second act. RAN reaches its emotional peak in the first hour, and the rest, like APOCALYPSE NOW following the helicopter raid, tends to meander in search for shape and meaning. HIGH AND LOW is feverish drama in the first hour, and rest of the film is about picking up the pieces and very different in tone from the first act and half. Alfred Hitchcock did something similar with PSYCHO where the seemingly lead character is killed off in the first third, followed by the rest that’s about clue work.

    The first hour of HIGH AND LOW is clearly the best. The final twenty minutes are pretty suspenseful. But the second hour is problematic. It is good cinema but only good. Perhaps, Kurosawa should have balanced the second hour more between the police and the kidnapper. Also, instead of presenting the police as so cool and professional, dramatizing them with warts and all(as every police department has its own craziness and flaws) would have been more engaging. And it would have been better if the kidnapper was explored a bit more than kept as a cipher with a troubled soul. He’s presented more as cold-blooded reptile than a sick-souled man. Kurosawa said the artist he admires most is Dostoevsky but he missed a Dostoevskyian opportunity. At best, the kidnapper remains Dostoevskyian only on the surface.

    The police work may remind us of the head samurai’s preparations in SEVEN SAMURAI. He surveys the nearby region, scours for weak spots, draws up a map, and pools resources to devise a plan of battle. Still, it’s more compelling in SEVEN SAMURAI than in HIGH AND LOW. But that may largely owe to the fact that defense of a village is simpler and clearer than navigating a huge city for tidbits of clues that may lead to the criminal. It’s like looking for a needle in a haystack. In SEVEN SAMURAI, the planners know what they are defending. In HIGH AND LOW, the planners have too many ideas and too few leads. A far more challenging and elusive task.

  12. Mr. Anon says:

    I saw this movie many years ago, on the big screen, in a revival house. It was great. I don’t remember much about it in detail, but I remember thinking at the time that it was one of the best movies I had ever seen. Although the details of the plot did not stick with me, the overall feeling of the film did. I liked the police-procedural aspect of it, and the way that the cops were ernest, upright, and dedicated. It was like watching a japanese version of Dragnet or Adam-12.

    I concur with the reviewers opinion – see this movie (I’ll have to watch it again now).

  13. Icy Blast says:

    Lynch makes this movie sound so good I’ll have to buy it immediately.

  14. The other day, I watched Alfred Hitchcock’s 1956 remake of THE MAN WHO KNEW TOO MUCH and was reminded of HIGH AND LOW as both movies feature a kidnapping. HIGH AND LOW is something between art film and genre movie whereas Hitchcock’s work is clearly adventure-suspense, but the latter offers good deal of food for thought as well, especially relevant in our age.

    In a way, the title of Hitchcock’s movie embodies the current conundrum of truth in relation to freedom and tyranny in the our time. Everyone who has been ‘red-pilled’ knows ‘too much’. He or she knows what he or she ‘should not’ know. He or she must live in a constant state of anxiety, even fear. He or she is held hostage by the powers-that-be that can destroy ANYONE who dares to speak the unspeakable. These days, “It’s Okay to be White” is ‘white supremacist’, Stefan Molyneux’s philosophy is ‘far right’, and honest talk about Jewish IQ or black crime rates is ‘hate’. If you dare speak truth against the bogus moral authority of BLM, you will likely be harassed, shamed, and even fired. And not just you. Your relative could be destroyed as well, as the mother of the Atlanta cop found out.

    THE MAN WHO KNEW TOO MUCH begins on a bus in Morocco. Hank, the young son of the American couple, walks down the aisle of the moving bus and accidentally removes the veil of an Arab woman, triggering an angry reaction from a man who seems to be her husband. We are made to think of this North African culture as backward and atavistic in contrast to the modern, developed, and free West. And yet, on the psychological level the movie suggests that people in the West must often wear veils or gags. Despite all the individual liberty and culture of freedom, there are manners to uphold and appearances to keep. Now, many such restraints are so ingrained in everyday life that we don’t even notice them nor regard them as repressive. Indeed, mundane strictures of a culture are usually noticed only in the presence of foreigners who don’t share in the same manners/habits or when fashions & values change fast enough for generation gaps to emerge. This also goes for symbols. So many statues and monuments that Americans regarded as normal representations of American history, spirit, and values have come to be seen through ‘radical’ or ‘alien’ eyes as vile, wicked, intolerable, offensive, and ‘racist’. The New Normal views the Old Normal as monstrous and taboo.

    Hitchcock, being an Englishman who settled in Hollywood(perhaps the least cultured and most vulgar yet also most pretentious and striving part of urban America), experienced certain ‘culture shocks’ in relation to the notion of freedom. Whereas the contrasts between Anglo-West and the Non-White West was stark and obvious in an us-versus-them way, the differences between UK and US were subtler. Both were democracies founded on similar principles. The Anglo component was also the essential key to both civilizations. And both social orders took pride in their ideals of individualism and liberty. And yet, as Margaret Thatcher later said, Europe’s about history whereas America is about ‘philosophy’, meaning ideology without roots. So, if English freedom was still connected to deep-rooted manners and habits, American freedom was with fewer restraints. Essentially, Americanism was freer than Britishism, and yet, paradoxically enough, could freedom as a social ideal have emerged in an overly free system? In other words, is American freedom of the cowboy possible only because it is essentially an outgrowth and/or transplant of the British freedom of the gentleman? Even though the tree of freedom grew big and sturdy in the US, could it have begun only in a corner of the well-tended English garden? Traditionally, most political philosophers regarded too-much-freedom as recipe for ‘anarchy’, chaos, and destruction. To hold things together and maintain stability, there was the need for authority and threat of violence to warn potential rabble-rousers. Yet, too much order was oppressive and prevented innovation, criticism, and reform. So, freedom was necessary for truth and progress. And yet, to prevent freedom from veering out of control, there needed to be social hierarchies, strict codes of conduct, taboos against excessive vulgarity, and tough enforcement of laws. So, even though cowboy freedom grew out of gentleman freedom, it couldn’t have developed from cowboy freedom itself, which was too wild. Indeed the Wild West led to high body counts and the eventual rise of oligarchic rule by rancher barons, and something like sustainable freedom only emerged with sheriffs, courts, and rule of law.


    Even though those on the Dissident Right especially need the protection of Free Speech, it should be obvious to all that free speech cannot work in a barbaric order. Society must be like a garden or park than a wild forest. If freedom is allowed to run free in a barbaric manner, society can become like a forest or jungle. What happens to a garden without a gardener? In the end, the toughest and most aggressive organisms come to dominate and devour all others. Allow unfettered freedom of nature take over a garden, and many flowers and other species of plants will be overshadowed and crushed by others. It’s like the need for irrigation and dams. Without them, excess water can just overflow, flood, and drown everything. Because English society was irrigated, diked, and dammed with certain codes of conduct, sense of honor, importance of reputation, and culture of shame, freedom could be allowed because the manners and form had an ‘irrigative’ effect on them. And even though American freedom was broader and less inhibited, it too wasn’t totally wild and crazy as the Anglo, Germanic, Irish, and other settlers continued with many of their traditions in values and behavior. In contrast, we see the dangers of free speech among wild blacks for whom freedom doesn’t extend much beyond “muh dic*”, “where da white women at?”, “suck muh dic*, biatch”, “I’s gonna kill dat ni**a”, and “who dun ate muh bucket of chicken?” Free speech for Negroes is ‘gangsta rap’ and BLM Nuttery. And when we look at free speech among ‘white trash’ on THE JERRY SPRINGER SHOW where the venal Jewish host encourages ‘trailer trash’ morons to spew the worst kind of filth at one another to the audience cheers/jeers of “Jerry, Jerry, Jerry”, it looks like an experiment in freedom gone very wrong. We sense that this kind of freedom, this kind of ‘democracy’, cannot last long.
    On those grounds, even some on the Dissident Right might concede of kernel of truth among those who call for some curtailment of free speech. Perhaps, organizations like ADL & SPLC and companies like Facebook, Google, Amazon, Twitter, and etc. have a point in trying to restrict free speech by at least suppressing ‘hate speech’. After all, the culture of freedom was able to bloom in Britain only because a responsible and dignified kind of freedom grew in a garden-like society pruned and trimmed by manners and codes of conduct. And with balance of democratic and aristocratic rule.
    And yet, the current censors are utterly phony and disingenuous because they are ANARCHO-tyrannists. The lessons of British History teaches us that the best regulators of free speech are manners, composure, and honor, but the dominant forces in the West encourage everyone to act more vulgar, trashy, insane, infantile, hyper, and hateful(as long as the targets are approved by the Power). If traditional British freedom developed by pressuring people to act more civilized, more middle-class and ‘bourgeois’ in values, the current West is encouraging and even pushing people to act more like barbarians, savages, and animals. Tattoos, piercings, and ugly green hair are promoted. Rap music and ‘twerking’ are celebrated. TV shows have non-stop use of F-words for totally gratuitous reasons. Porn is pushed on even kids. Even so-called ‘mainstream culture’ has been pornified via figures like Lena Dunham and Miley Cyrus. So, instead of expanding free speech within norms of dignity and composure, the current system increasingly robs people of free speech while encouraging people to grunt more and more like apes and pigs. The media encourage whites to ape the savage behavior of blacks and celebrate putrid displays of vulgar vanity of homos and trannies. (Bourgeois homos of the past had some dignity, but that is no more.) There is also the hypocrisy of Jewish Supremacist Power practicing murderous neo-imperialism around the world and crushing Palestinians but berating goyim, especially white people(and Iranians and Russians) for various forms of ‘hate’ and ‘supremacy’. Thus, the anti-free-speech policies of the globalist oligarchy isn’t even against all forms of hate but really aimed at truthful speech defamed as ‘hate’ in order to protect and perpetuate the truly vicious and hateful policies of Zionist Hegemonism. The Current Power isn’t about maintaining balance or playing referee but allowing globalist power to grow like cancer to destroy all that stands in its way. It’s not about maintaining a garden but letting a kind of poison weed take over the entire plot.

    THE MAN WHO KNEW TOO MUCH was made long before the rise of PC. Back then, there were other kinds of checks — social, moral, political, spiritual — on unfettered free speech. But certain things weren’t said simply because everyone knew it wouldn’t be good form. Even if they weren’t against the law, they were against norms of proper conduct. Still, could it be that Hitchcock intuited the rise of something like Political Correctness? Perhaps not, but THE MAN WHO KNEW TOO MUCH and THE BIRDS now almost seem ‘cassandric’.

    There are things we dare not say for the necessary maintenance of order and the peace. But there are things that we dare not say out of fear. With ramping of PC and ‘wokeness’, more people are remaining silent out of fear, even terror. And so many spoken words, especially from whites, sound like forced confessions or sappy wussy-talk. In TMWKTM, there are various reasons why people don’t speak their minds, ranging from good manners to abject fright. There are also moments when people communicate through veiled messages or signals. Dr. Benjamin McKenna(James Stewart), being American, is more direct than most. When he meets a Frenchman on a bus, he reveals more about himself and his profession than an Englishman might, so much so that his wife reprimands him later. (Yet, we come to learn she is a very emotional woman.) One may say that McKenna, as a free-spirited American, feels at home wherever he goes, but there’s a certain provincialism in American expansive-ism. Just like Colonel Kilgore in APOCALYPSE NOW saw Vietnam as more cowboys-and-indians and Surfing USA, the McKennas have a habit(perhaps annoying to some) of seeing the world with American references. So, North Africa is said to be like Las Vegas, for example.
    When later Mckenna feels that the Frenchman snubbed him, he tries to tell him off, more characteristic of American than English behavior. But his wife dissuades him, and furthermore, they meet a nice English couple at an Arab restaurant. (Like the English and their manners, the Arabs have their own customs of proper sitting and eating, for which the tall and long-legged American McKenna is ill-suited. ‘McKenna’ sounds of Irish origin, and perhaps the relative directness flows from that as well.)

    After leaving the restaurant, an Arab in pursuit by the authority stabs another Arab who turns out to be the Frenchman in disguise. Before he dies, he encounters McKenna and whispers something about an assassination plot. McKenna writes it down and, as witness to murder, is taken to the police station with his wife. The nice English woman assures the couple that she will take their son back to the hotel. They see no reason not to trust her. At the police station, he gets a call from a man with a foreign accent that his son is being held hostage and that he better not speak a word of whatever he may have heard. It turns out the nice English couple are operatives and not so very nice.

    Relevant to our times is that McKenna has crucial information but can’t speak it because his son’s life could be endangered. A useful metaphor for the state of affairs in the 21st century. Anyone who knows some Inconvenient Truth better keep his or her mouth shut OR he or she will be harassed, defamed, deplatformed, banned, fired, blacklisted, and even physically attacked on the street. Perhaps, in the case of Jeffrey Epstein, it was death… and some others have died odd deaths as well. Now, such controls and threats are nothing new in history, but it feels more surreal under ‘anarcho-tyrannism’ that promises us more freedom while delivering more tyranny at the same time. More slut pride, more porny culture, more vulgar displays of tattoos and globo-homo to show the world, “The West is so free and liberal”, but increasing taboos on what cannot be said, shared, expressed, written… or even thought. What is ‘white fragility’, ‘micro-aggressions’, and such ideas about but to send a chilling message, “Don’t you even think about it”? And Newsweek ran a cover saying that babies, especially white babies, are ‘racist’ too. Also, PC was devised to drive people crazy… like what happened to Ingrid Bergman’s character in UNDER CAPRICORN. On the one hand, whites are raised to be easily triggered ‘snowflakes’. They are pressured to be ultra-sensitive and to walk on egg-shells. But for trying to avoid the accusation of ‘racism’, they are then accused of ‘fragility’. It’s all enough to drive anyone crazy.

    In our so-called ‘liberal democracy’, which is supposedly so much freer than Russia or China or Venezuela, you can be ‘cancelled’ for saying a man with balls and wig is not a woman. You can be ‘cancelled’ for saying BLM is misconceived because most blacks are killed senselessly by other blacks. Or FBI will come after you if you post, “It’s Okay to be White.” You will be fired for defending your son, a police officer who followed proper procedures. An athlete can be booted off the team because his GIRLFRIEND posted something on Twitter that defied the Narrative. Say “All Lives Matter”, and it’s grounds for dismissal. We are told Western Institutions are all about freedom and inquiry, but college administrations do nothing while PC thugs attack guest-speakers like Charles Murray. Even ‘tough guy’ Donald Trump has done nothing to protect his supporters from firing, deplatforming, and the like. But he moved the Embassy to Jerusalem, secured Golan Heights for Israel, and is ready to declare West Bank as part of Zion. Can we say Jewish supremacist gangsters rule America? You better not because you are held hostage. You will be finished and destroyed if you speak the truth. The whores in the media get rewarded with million dollar contracts for pushing nonsense like Russia Collusion Hoax but anyone who dares to speak the truth about Jewish Power, homo degeneracy, black thuggery, or the dire results of mass migration won’t even be admitted to top-tier colleges which are only for Jewish supremacists, cuck-collaborator whites, affirmative action babies, and the well-connected. At least the old British hierarchy and privilege were acknowledged and well-understood. In contrast, the name of the game today is that those with most power and authority play the victim and cry the loudest about ‘white supremacism’, ‘antisemitism’, ‘homophobia’, or some other crap.

    So, many people today who are ‘based’ or ‘red-pilled’ is bound to feel like the man-who-knows-too-much. But it isn’t just those on the Dissident Right but some on the True Left as well, especially if they espouse BDS and justice for Palestinians(and call out on Jewish supremacist roles in all these crazy roles and Wall Street robbery).
    But it can even affect just normal people without strong ideological ties or racial animus. It’s like McKenna is a regular American who merely wants to lead a normal life with wife and child. He didn’t ask to be part of some international intrigue. He just bumped into someone who told him hints of a conspiracy. Even so, his son is taken away and he better shut up, or else. Likewise, in the latest round of PC nuttery, so many ‘normies’ have been destroyed. After Charlottesville, the Alt Right and white identitarians were targeted. But in all this Covid and BLM craziness, even normies who never asked for controversy have been destroyed. We are not talking of sensationalists like Alex Jones or David Icke but regular doctors who said the response to Covid has been disproportionate. Their videos were taken off youtube. And so many of the most ‘normie’-like people have been attacked, smeared, fired, and destroyed because they didn’t chant the official mantra and simply noticed that not all is correct with the Narrative. PC harpies rail against the slightest deviance from the Narrative like the crazed winged critters descend on townsfolk in THE BIRDS. Even ‘normies’ are attacked as ‘nazis’.

    The character of TMWKTM didn’t even want to know or get involved, but he came to know(through no fault of his own), and that was enough for his child to be held hostage. It’s like he’s held hostage too, psychologically if not physically.
    As it happens, the information he got from the Frenchman is vague and cryptic, and in Britain he confuses a name of a place for name of a person. (Still, the confusion signified a link between peoples and places, as places are named after people, as France is finding out under BLM nuttery as certain street names will be renamed after African soldiers who served in World War II. Civilization is essentially associative as things with no literal relation become related through myth, memory, and narrative. But then, animals have ways of marking territory with scents and claw marks, a kind of proto-associative behavior. In the current ‘culture war’, Jews-blacks-immigrants are replacing the scent of white urine and signs of white claw marks on white lands with their own scents and scratches. We are not far removed from animals in many ways. Negro pisses on white man’s territorial claim and spreads his seed into white wombs… and whites celebrate this as ‘justice’ and ‘progress’. The motifs of passports and the embassy suggest at how many of our rules are ‘animal’ in origin. Animals are territorial and so are humans, but humans have to turn emotions into abstractions. Passports allow tourists to gain temporary territorial access and rights on foreign lands. This is even truer of embassies. Though located in foreign nations, laws protect them as sovereign territory of the occupants. The notion of extra-territoriality goes against nature but is derived from nature. Songs are regarded as art or entertainment but began as life-or-death matters of mating calls, war cries, and maternal bonds.)

    Hitchcock, like Charles Darwin, was both a sophisticate and a ‘primitive'(with naturalist grounding). In a way, it’s odd how such a refined and dignified people as the English took a close look at nature and came up with the idea that mankind evolved from apes that evolved from monkeys that evolved from lemurs and etc. For man to discover his animal origins, he had to be least animal-like and most cerebral and sophisticated in careful observation and consideration. And this odd dichotomy is found in Hitchcock’s movies that are, at once, sophisticated and ‘primitivist’. They involve intrigue and calculation by men of wit and intelligence(and even intellect), but there is something animal about the urges, drives, and passions that fuel the plots. Hitchcock’s use of animal metaphor was striking in PSYCHO and MARNIE and over-the-top in THE BIRDS. There’s some of it in TMWKTM. McKenna follows a false lead and ends up at the place of a taxidermist, a father and son operation. McKenna the father trying to save his son is convinced that this father-son team of animal-stuffers are in on the plot, resulting in a ruckus. The dead animals are suggestive of civilization’s relation to nature. Civilization must murder nature but is haunted by it, just like Norman Bates killed his mother but is haunted by her.

    TMWKTM is about predators/hunters and prey, though some of the prey are themselves hunters. Agents stalk one another. They also utilize a common feature among animals and plants. Camouflage. Directness in nature is as fatal or futile as directness is often in society. A predator must stalk its prey and get close before pouncing. Prey animals have patterns on furs or skin that blend in with the environment, so as not to be detected. Any predator that makes its intentions obvious will never catch the next meal. Any prey that leaves itself open will be spotted and eaten. Deception is crucial in nature.

    Likewise, for all the talk of freedom and honesty, so much of power in any society, democratic or autocratic, is about subterfuge and secrecy. Why do Jews hide their power? Why do they camouflage their Jewish-centric institutions with names like ‘center for democracy’, ‘peace foundation’, ‘liberty institute’, and the like. ‘Reagan Battalion’ indeed. Or Stratton-Oakmont in THE WOLF OF WALL STREET. In TMWKTM, the assassination-plotters double as pastor and wife. (And today, globo-homo and neo-satanism wrap themselves in christian cloth, though misuse of Christianity is nothing new and may even go back to the moment when Early Christians betrayed the spirit by uniting with the Roman Empire.) And the French agent is in Arab cloth and brown face paint when killed in the first act of the movie. But then, taxidermy-animals are dead objects wrapped in the likeness of life. But then, art is a form of taxidermy, with actors pretending to be what they are not and with the audience suspending disbelief and taking fiction as reality.
    But even in real life, everyone is an actor with a mask or various masks as people can’t simply be honestly what they are all the time. But then, do people really know what they are? (The question in Ingmar Bergman’s PERSONA.) If a person is both nature and nurture, then his/her natural side is only half of him/her and wrapped with ‘nurtural’ norms. In this light, the international aspect of the movie makes us ponder the meaning of ‘American’, ‘English’, ‘French’, ‘Arab’, and etc. What makes a white person an ‘American’ and not ‘English’?
    While real nations and real cultures, they are also constructs of history, customs and experience. This is especially true of ‘American’, especially after the 1965 Immigration Act when just about anyone could come to the US and become, within five short years and citizenship, an ‘American’. But then, we apply such labels even to animals. ‘Russian brown bear’, ‘American eagle’, ‘Japanese monkey’, ‘Indian elephant’, ‘Mexican wolf’, etc.
    In some ways, Americanism, by erasing much of the roots of history and culture, made the newly minted Americans more artificial, people based on an ideological construct. But in some ways, it also made Americans more natural and ‘animal’ as, without the burden of cultural memory, they could freely pursue their natural-animal desire for ‘happiness’. Animals live to consume, and Americanism has become synonymous with consumerism, and this mode has spread all over the world. America as Animarica. Even in anti-American Iran, consumerism is a big part of modern life. We learn that McKenna is revisiting North Africa because he served as a soldier there in World War II. So, there is an element of memory and of return. But he is also a representative of the American as tourist who travels around the world just because. The world is a bundle of sights, sounds, and smells to be consumed.

    The Europeans, the British and the French, in the movie seem, at once, closer to Americans and to the non-whites. They are closer to Americans because they’re all white and have shared racial and cultural background. And yet, in some ways, Europeans feel closer to non-whites because both Europe and the non-white world have deep customs and traditions(at least back then as Europe today is a deracinated and uprooted place, and the Third World isn’t far behind). In contrast, Americanism was founded on a certain willful amnesia: Become Lotus-eaters and forget the past in exchange for more freedom and material goods, for more ‘happiness’.

    The Frenchman seems to get along with the Arabs and understand them on some level. The British couple in an Arab restaurant feel more at ease with the food and etiquette than McKenna who feels claustrophobic. He wants to eat the food like fried chicken at a picnic. And can anyone think of a more All-American actress than Doris Day? So utterly generic, the girl-next-door-type. (The Arab way of eating is with the right hand using only three fingers. It makes little sense from a common-sense view, but then, so much of life even in the West is about following rules, conventions, and/or customs where where we must act properly than what-comes-naturally. PC says we can’t use certain ideas, concepts, and words even though using them would allow for fuller communication. Just like Arab etiquette requires the use of only one hand, we must leave out honest discussion of race when dealing with black problems in the US. Or we mustn’t mention Jewish Power when discussing the crisis in the Middle East.)

    Doris Day was the most ‘white bread’ and ‘safe’ star of the 1950s. And yet, Hitchcock brings out the ‘animal’ side of her. Not as in sexy beast but as in mother nature when threatened. Thus, it may be the most passionate performance of Doris Day’s career. Motherhood was often presented on TV and advertising, especially back then, as associated with security, safety, domesticity. In TMWKTM, it is threatened, and Doris Day fans may have been perturbed to watch their idol pushed to the edge of sanity, the verge of becoming a crazed animal. (It is like the maternal version of THE SEARCHERS.) Indeed, McKenna spares the audience the worst of this by drugging her before telling her about the kidnapping. It’s like McKenna administers an animal tranquilizer, like sedating a horse. Indeed, what can be more disturbing to mammal-mother-nature(and to bird-mother-nature) than threat to the young? The mother’s attachment to her young is the source of love and affection among mammals. It is also the source of hatred, as the greatest fury in animal-dom is seen in mothers defending their young. Whether it’s goose mother or bear mother, hell hath no fury like a mother’s young threatened. So, even though she is introduced as a reasonable person, we later learn that she’s a very emotional woman who can lose control when disturbed, and what can be more upsetting for a woman than having her child taken away(though, these days, women just love to get abortions)? Some viewers may condemn McKenna’s decision to drug her as ‘sexist’, i.e. a woman is too fragile to deal with stress. Especially given the graveness of the situation, it’s an understandable criticism, but it would be disingenuous today when so many snowflakes are triggered by everything, demand ‘safe spaces’, and are provided with milk-and-cookies and exemptions from examinations because Donald Trump won the presidency or George Floyd the Fentanyl Negro died in Minneapolis. Besides, drugging just about everyone over any excuse is now the American Way.

    The mother-child bond is as warm and hopeful in TMWKTM as it is sick in PSYCHO and dark in MARNIE, somewhere between the two opposites. Mothers can spawn anything from angels to demons. Animal vs Culture or Nature vs Nurture theme comes to a head in the penultimate scene when Joe(Doris Day) sings “Que Sera Sera” at a foreign embassy. She sings to provide a distraction for her husband to slip out of the room, but it turns into communication between mother and son as the kidnapped boy begins to whistle the tune(like a chick fallen out of the nest chirping for its mother). She maintains her pose and keeps singing before the esteemed audience in the embassy, but her emotions over-flow with suppressed maternal-animal passion.

    TMWKTM probably inspired the opera scene in THE GODFATHER PART 3. It also anticipated THE MANCHURIAN CANDIDATE. And Brian De Palma’s BLOW OUT has some similarities. Blow-out to hide the gun shot. Fourth of July celebration and fireworks as cover for murder.

    TMWKTM makes us aware of how often we cannot say or do something as the result of customs or circumstances. Just like McKenna can’t spill the beans on what he knows because he fears for his son, the villain-disguised-as-pastor cannot say or do what he really wants to with McKenna at the chapel because of the church attendees. And later, the authorities cannot raid the church(or the embassy) because of certain rules and regulations. These codes and conventions allow for the rule of law but also restrain so much that is natural and urgent. The appeal of Nazism was it allowed for more direct and rapid action to do what was necessary to build the economy and restore German pride. But, by allowing the Power to act in such manner, it also trampled on rules, rights, and then other nations, setting off a world war. Thus, the rules are both stifling and necessary. The rules offer leeway for bad guys to get away on many occasions but prevent the monopolization of power by one group. A necessary compromise. Still, they only work in a world of order, manners, and dignity. Fill up UK with a bunch of angry Muslims, crazy blacks, & trashy shameless deracinated whites, and those rules won’t matter for long as fewer people will care about maintaining order and peace.

    In a way, the condition of white folks in our time is like the scene in the embassy with Doris Day singing “Que Sera, Que Sera”. She sings as if all is well and as if her only concern is to entertain the distinguished gathering. But her heart is elsewhere. It’s all the more ironic because the song lyrics are about resignation and acceptance of fate whereas she is willing to go to any lengths to save her kid from an all-too-likely tragic outcome. She wants to see her son again, and when she hears his whistles, she wants to run toward him, but she can’t. She has to maintain composure because only by such deceit can her husband sneak upstairs to maybe save the kid. Like the singing in the scene, so much of white-to-white communication cannot be direct and conscious. The term ‘dog-whistling’ is often used by Jews to characterize whites signaling pro-white messages to whites, but at least dog-whistlers, at the very least, wink wink, know what they really feel. In contrast, whites today are so brainwashed by anti-white propaganda that they don’t even know that some of their implicitly white expressions are really about white need for security and solidarity. They create SWPL communities away from Diversity but sincerely feel themselves to be for stuff like BLM and Hate-Trump-mania.

    Cymbals serve as the key motif in the movie. Perhaps, it stands for truth, which must be suppressed most of the time because truth is often brazenly upsetting and disturbing. So, even as the cymbalist wields the biggest, heaviest, and loudest instrument, he mostly sits still and waits for the right moment to slam them together. It’s like McKenna too must wait for that right moment to blurt out the truth, to make the big move. And the fact that the assassin intends to shoot the gun when the cymbals clash(that will drown out the gunshot) expands on the camouflage metaphor. Murder camouflaged by music. Consider what the Deep State is planning silently behind the clamor of BLM riots and Covid hysteria.
    Music is the most direct, natural, and impassioned(and animal) of all the arts, but the Western Classical Symphony is also the most elaborate and complex form of music. Though all music is rooted in animal emotions, classical music(especially in symphonic form) aspires to be noble, spiritual, transcendental, representing the highest sentiments of civilization. Thus, it lacks the feeling of spontaneity, of sexuality. It is like a taxidermized elephant. Every player and singer in the orchestra must keep together with the preparation and not deviate from a single note. In some ways, it is the highest form of music but, in another way, it is anti-music because it doesn’t allow for any kind of spontaneity, the very source of music(as especially embodied by Negroes). So, the scream that brings the concert to a halt is at once an interruption and a reminder of how civilization has been cut off from its natural roots, the raw emotions.

  15. Ran, High and Low, Dersu Uzala …does it get any better?

    • Replies: @Priss Factor
  16. Anonymous[362] • Disclaimer says:

    How about review a Rock album from the 60s or 80s?

  17. Gondo’s driver Aoki acts like a cringing, servile feudal retainer. This makes Gondo angry. After all, this is modern Japan. Both men come from humble backgrounds. They simply have a business relationship. Why shouldn’t they be on terms of social equality?

    Japan was not a society of social egalitarians in the 1960s (nor is it even today).

    Here is the opening paragraph of the chapter on hierarchy in Jared Taylor’s book on Japan, “Rising Sun”:

    All societies establish hierarchies. In few societies, however, are they so widespread or important as in Japan. For the Japanese, rank is so finely determined that equality is rare — everyone and everything are at least slightly above or below the nearest apparent equal. Family members, workmates, schools, companies, even nations and races all have their places. Hierarchy is inseparable from orderliness; a group is not properly organized unless its members are ranked.

    So it is most unlikely that Gondo was angered by Aoki’s servility, since Aoki’s behavior was appropriate to his station. Gondo was more likely angered Aoki’s attempts to prevail upon Gondo to save his son (ie to emotionally manipulate him), or angered by Aoki’s refusal to stoically accept the hand that fate had dealt him.

  18. Gondo was more likely angered Aoki’s attempts to prevail upon Gondo to save his son (ie to emotionally manipulate him)

    Gondo’s anger was also a desperate repression of his shame that he chose money over life. It’s especially stinging on his conscience because he was willing to pay any sum to save his own kid but doesn’t feel the same way for another man’s son… which, of course, is natural as most of us don’t care about strangers. Still, with Aoki the relationship is somewhat complicated because, even though he’s just a hireling who’s only owed waged, he’s also been a loyal servant and grown close to the family, indeed to the extent that his son plays with Gondo’s son as if they’re siblings. Whereas the parents are distinguished by rank and status, kids are still kids. They even switch roles and toy guns at the drop of a hat in playing cops and robbers. Ironically, Gondo cheers on his son in the role of robber. He tells him to do ANYTHING to ‘kill’ the cop and come out on top. Winning is what matters. Because his son feels so close to Aoki’s kid, Gondo is especially in a quandary. Also, the ONLY reason the kid was kidnapped was because of mistaken identity. The real target was Gondo’s son, and so, Aoki’s son would NOT have been kidnapped if he hadn’t been playing in the premises of Gondo’s house and mistaken for his kid. So, in a way, even though Gondo’s son is safe at home, it is as if he was kidnapped in a ‘spiritual’ sense. Aoki’s kid could very well be Gondo’s kid. It was only by chance that the kidnapper took the wrong kid. There is also the fact that Aoki is a widower and only has his son as family(like with the widower of IKIRU; one of the sad things about the angry peasant in SEVEN SAMURAI is that his wife has been kidnapped by the bandits, and so, he has no family, which for Kurosawa, is the saddest thing, as with the Dersu Uzala character). (In a way, there are two wrongful kidnappings in HIGH AND LOW. Not only is the wrong kid abducted but the wrong Gondo is targeted by Takeuchi the kidnapper, i.e. Takeuchi’s imagination of Gondo as heartless villain is at odds with the real man who, though no saint, isn’t a monster either. But Takeuchi’s craziness can’t hold a candle to current PC craziness in the West where Jewish Power willfully paints the wrong image of Evil Whiteness, so evil that it must be attacked and destroyed and shown no quarters. People like Tim Wise, Sabrina Rubin Erderly, and Mark Zuckerberg’s disgusting sister are kidnappers and murderers of White Reputation.)

    Now, if Aoki’s son had been kidnapped at Aoki’s house for reasons unrelated to Gondo, Gondo would have felt no special obligation to sacrifice his wealth for the kid. But, as Aoki’s kid was playing with Gondo’s kid only because Aoki was working for Gondo, it’s not merely an academic matter but a very personal one. It’s not just a question of abstract altruism but personal attachment. Unlike his partners who are willing to stab him in the back(and vice versa), Aoki has been a loyal worker. Also, children easily become friends and attached to one another, and Gondo would feel shamefaced in front of his own son IF he let the other kid get murdered.

    Also, the ‘national’ and ‘social’ elements cannot be overstated. Jewish Power pushed two ideologies on Western Man: Anti-National collectivism(especially via communism and anarchism)
    and Anti-National individualism(especially via libertarianism and me-centered hedonism). Though collectivism and individualism are polar opposites, they have one key commonality: Denial of National Identity, Unity, and Purpose. Ideally, communism was supposed to be a borderless ideology of workers-of-the-world(even though its tyranny, failures, and paranoia about the richer and more powerful West led to strict border controls that actually boosted national preservation, if only by accident). And libertarian capitalism denigrates national identities as ‘atavistic tribalism’ and emphasizes the free individual as rootless globalist wanderer. But even as Jews pushed these two modes on goyim, their main mode was a form of ‘national socialism’ via Zionism and Jewish Consciousness. Indeed, it was a key reason as to why many Jews were alarmed by the rise of German National Socialism and fascism in general. Sure, they were disturbed by its anti-Jewish vitriol, but the other reason was the Germans had figured out the real source of Jewish Power: Jews used capitalism and employed elements of socialism BUT centered around Jewish Interests; in other words, make collectivism and individualism revolve around nationalism than abandon nationalism to wholly commit oneself to collectivism or individualism. (To be sure, the main passion of white people today is more idolatry than ideology: Worship of the holy three of Jews, homos, and Negroes, what with both white socialists and white capitalists sucking to Fentanyl Floyd as the holy angel.) Without Tribalesse Oblige, the elites of a people split from the masses of the people… as we are now seeing in the West and even the East.

    Now, ‘national socialism’ only works within the nation, which is why both German imperialism and Japanese imperialism became so problematic and ultimately monstrous. Their strong sense of identity made them cohesive at home but alienated & hostile abroad, especially among those they regarded as inferior. And we see the same problem with Jewish Power. Zionism works well for Jews in Israel but unfolds as supremacist Nazi-like imperialism outside the Jewish nation because Jews feel disdain and contempt for goyim, be they Arabs or Iranians.

    • Replies: @silviosilver
  19. @Priss Factor

    Now, if Aoki’s son had been kidnapped at Aoki’s house for reasons unrelated to Gondo, Gondo would have felt no special obligation to sacrifice his wealth for the kid. But, as Aoki’s kid was playing with Gondo’s kid only because Aoki was working for Gondo, it’s not merely an academic matter but a very personal one. It’s not just a question of abstract altruism but personal attachment.

    That’s all quite true. I didn’t mention it because I thought it was obvious.

    Gondo’s anger was also a desperate repression of his shame that he chose money over life.

    But he also knew — and we knew too — that it wasn’t just about lucre. The shoe factory was his entire life, it was his calling. His anger could just as well be related to the thought of having to see his dreams go up in smoke in order to save the life of someone that, when you got down to it, he didn’t really have to save.

    Remember, Aoki didn’t immediately begin grovelling and pleading. I actually thought he might remain (outwardly) stoic about his kid’s fate for the whole film. I would have found it believable if he’d left such things in the hands of his social superior — his “lord.” When he did begin wailing a bit hysterically (by his standards), I thought Gondo might rebuke him for forgetting his station. (Nothing like that occurred, though.)

  20. I liked Stray Dog. It was another cop movie set in postwar Japan.

  21. A really fine movie, another Kurosawa masterpiece. What has been left out in all this most interesting discussion is that the movie is based on an Ed McBain 87th Street police thriller novel, King’s Ransom. I’d like to know if anyone has read it, as I never have, and how the novel made it to Kurosawa and his associates, and how much of the characterizations of High and Low’s characters is in the novel’s.

    One other thing I noticed when I saw the movie was that the slum scenes were of parts of urban Japan that had been firebombed away during the war. The slums to my eyes at the time all looked like new construction slums, terribly gerrybuilt but new. Most impressive, all the postwar new construction, but most disturbing, that it was shoddily built new slums.

Current Commenter

Leave a Reply - Comments on articles more than two weeks old will be judged much more strictly on quality and tone

 Remember My InformationWhy?
 Email Replies to my Comment
Submitted comments have been licensed to The Unz Review and may be republished elsewhere at the sole discretion of the latter
Commenting Disabled While in Translation Mode
Subscribe to This Comment Thread via RSS Subscribe to All Trevor Lynch Comments via RSS
The Surprising Elements of Talmudic Judaism
From the Leo Frank Case to the Present Day
Analyzing the History of a Controversial Movement