Obscure but Timeless

                                             Photo credits to Amazon.com

I finally got the inspiration and excuse to write about one of my favorite movies of all time, Red Beard. Dr. Em Dy of Pulse is hosting TBR-14 this week and her theme, Doc Hollywood, is thankfully a respite from some of the epistaxis-inducing topics we’ve tackled in the recent past.

To quote, “This is the call for entries. I’m inviting my fellow doctors to write from the heart, push the imagination to the max and talk about medicine and the movies or television.”

The Plot
Red Beard is a film set in 19th century Japan. A cocky, pompous new medical graduate unwittingly finds himself an intern in a remote, impoverished town. To make matters worse, he has to work for a difficult clinic director, Dr. Kyojio Niide, or Akahige (Red Beard), so called because of the color of his facial hair. (We have to take their word for it – the film, produced in the 60s, is in black and white.)

Self-absorbed intern Dr. Noboru Yasumoto, ‘anak ng diyos’ and connected to people in high places cannot believe his fate and tries quite desperately to get out of there by breaking rules. Plot is simple enough. Without spoiling it for those who still wish to see it, it is about the evolution of a mentor-protege relationship and the education of a young physician.

My Mc Dreamy
The young doctor is played by Japanese actor/singer Yuzo Kayama, apparently a heartthrob in his day. He started out as a singer, much like a Japanese Elvis. His early filmography includes a Japanese musical set in Hawaii, similar to Elvis’ Blue Hawaii. I was curious to find out what has become of Mr. Kayama and I found out through the good ol’ net that he is still a successful singer and character actor in Japan. And he has aged very well, too, as he appears to still be goodlooking even now.

I swoon over his portrayal of the cocky intern – parang bad boy na guwaping ang dating. I think we all know the type. I especially like his almond eyes, the way they seem to be smiling all the time… [swoon]. The film is 40 plus years old, and yet I feel like it was only produced today. Even the characters appear to be timeless.

My fave line from the movie, when cocky intern boasts that he ‘studied Dutch medicine in Nagasaki, and my medical notes are mine’ (or something like that because he was being selfish and didn’t want to share his notes with his mentor).

Akahige’s reply, “Medical knowledge is for everyone.”

The setting of the movie, in a desolate, desperate place, probably similar to some of our poorest barrios, is enough to suck one into deep depression. The lives of the individual patients portrayed in the movie are heavy with misery and misfortune. The black and white setting does not help but portray glum and despair.

Yet, behind every story is a story of hope. It is every doctor’s dream story – ending with much hope and optimism for all. An easy message that in spite of difficulties bestowed by human nature, it is the same nature that allows us to rise from the ruins and go on with life.

About the film
I have several of Akira Kurosawa’s films on DVD, and in my opinion, this is the BEST one. I can relate to the plot, it embodies my own noble dreams as a doctor. It has such magnificent cinematography. The commentary in the DVD shows how obsessive Kurosawa was when it came to detail.

There was an earthquake scene in the movie. On his last day of filming, he took footage of the set being destroyed and he used that for the earthquake scene. We are not talking about high school auditorium sets. We’re talking highly elaborate sets.

I so love one of the final scenes where the backdrop is a snowy day. It so reminds of the day I first saw this movie (the same DVD I own) in New York City when it was also snowing outside.

It was also fun watching all the Japanese customs from that era. I watch how they move about on their knees when indoors, in rooms.

Final comment: The movie is loooooooooong – it’s 185 minutes including the 5 minute intermission. And there are subtitles to worry about, unless you know some Nihonggo. I don’t recommend any other way of watching this except by DVD. Make sure you have all that time!

This is a theme I really enjoyed tackling. It gave me license to watch Red Beard on DVD for the nth time, and laugh and cry while I drooled over one of the good-looking protagonists. If I had more time, I would’ve included my review of Spellbound where I’d swoon, this time, over Gregory Peck’s Dr. Edwards. I’ll save that for future editions of TBR.

You can read more about Red Beard on Amazon and other film review sites.

9 Comments Add yours

  1. ewok1993 says:

    “Bad boy na gwaping ang dating” –LOL!!!!

    I haven’t heard of this movie. But will see if it’s in Netflix. You got me curious.

    haha, i hope you get hooked too. on the movie, I mean. OK, I don’t mind if you get hooked on Dr. Cocky Intern too. ~MegaMom

  2. Em Dy says:

    Thanks MegaMom for joining and for the review too. I have not seen this. Thank you too for the warning. When I do watch this, I’ll make sure I’m in the right mood, have enough time and possibly, a bag of chips or a bucket of popcorn.

    We should all thank you for the truly entertaining theme, Em Dy! I hope you enjoy the movie. Have the remote handy for frequent rewinds (to read the STs) and pauses (for bathroom breaks). The intermission is perfect to pop that 2nd bag of popcorn.😉 ~MegaMom

  3. Joey says:

    You got me interested in this movie! Will ask the hubby to look for the DVD. :)

    Enjoy the movie with the hubby! It was my hubby who actually introduced me to Kurosawa films.😀 ~MegaMom

  4. manggy says:

    Hey, I sat through an extended cut of Lord of the Rings, I can manage more than 3 hours. Gulp. Ha ha ha. I don’t really watch movies that often (old movies even less frequently so, and only during that time RJTV was showing 60’s movies in the evening). But this sounds like a good find. Thanks for sharing:)

    This is definitely more destitute than LOTR. Maybe hard to manage in one sitting.
    Does RJTV show any of those old Pinoy movies starring Susan Roces and Luis Gonzales? Gosh I would love to be able to watch those again. ~MegaMom

  5. Panaderos says:

    I’m a big Kurosawa fan and currently my favorites are The Seven Samurai and Yojimbo. Mr. Kurosawa is truly a master of storytelling. But based on what you wrote, I’ll definitely go and get this movie. Thanks for the write-up!

    From one AK fan to another – I have both 7Sam and Yojimbo, plus four more (in addition to Red Beard: Hidden Fortress, Ran, Sanjuro and Rashomon). I 100% agree that he is a master story-teller! Even the images and the music (the latter showing his decidedly Western training and influence) is part of the story telling. ~MegaMom

  6. dhanggit says:

    akira kurosawa is one of my fave japanese directors you should see to his ronin movie really great!! i actually have a collection of all his classical one, do you know takeshi kitano.?? he is my fave ever, his style is different too but im sure you will like i recommend you check kikojiro no natsu (i dont know the english title ) i saw the movie in japanese..im sure you will love it…i have to watch Red Beard as per your advise:-)

    btw, i’ll add you up in my blogroll so i can check you more regularly

    btw, i created a new site I’m inviting you to check, you can also invite other bloggers to visit and check that out..its all for people who love to get cooking inspiration


    have a great day!!

    ps, this looks like a letter too long hahaha

    Thanks for the additional recommendations, Dhanggit. Yes I am familiar with Kikujiro and Takeshi Kitano. These films are more contemporary, right?
    I checked out your new project – it’s great! I really wish I had more time to cook.

  7. Bone Doc says:

    Hahaha! Finally, another Akira Kurosawa fan! I’ve seen his Seven Samurais and will soon see Roshomon! But I have yet to see this one. Wala ako mahanap na kopya!

    The Blog Rounds 13th edition is up too, in my newly “uncluttered” site, The Orthopedic Logbook. Read the some sort of survey, here.

    And please don’t forget to vote ( yep, the poll beside my tag board widget, on the second column of my sidebar) about TBR’s round up frequency.

    The Blog Rounds 12.75 Edition is also up at Meloink’s Blog, The Philippine Daily Idiot. Lets get the nosebleed out of PMA!

    Lastly, Em Dy’s deadline for the 14th edition for TBR (paging Doc Hollywood) is fast approaching. Don’t forget to submit your post s for this TBR edition.

    Thanks for all the updates Doc Remo!
    So I am right about this move being ‘obscure’. (Frankly, I hedged on using in the title of the post.) So far, 7 commenters have said they’ve not seen it.😉 ~MegaMom

  8. MerryCherry says:

    Wow, this is something to see. Will look for the DVD and make sure, I have all the time in the world when I watch it:)

    And lots of popcorn! ~MegaMom

  9. jong says:

    wow, now i remember this movie. i love this too and am no md – this bumped seven samurai and rashomon off my list of favorite kurosawa movies (and my rashomon experience has sentimental value pa, come to think of it). i wish i can borrow more from your criterion collection:)

    The one person who’s seen the movie… and she borrowed the DVD from me, hehe!
    Of course, Jong, you are welcome to borrow more.:-) Remind me when we see each other again. I have Babette’s Feast, did I tell you that already? I have a lot pala in French, with all the unexpected endings. ~MegaMom

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