Monday, February 18, 2008

86. Film Review #9: Akira Kurosawa: SHIZUKANARU KETTO (The Quiet Duel) (1949)

A detailed analysis of the above film.

SHIZUKANARU KETTO (The Quiet Duel) (1949)

Under the pounding of a taiko drum, a field of black with pinpoints of lights exploding in bursts...

Dissolve to the Daiei logo, which scrolls downward over a background of clouds. White lettering: "Daiei Motion Picture Co., Ltd. Presents"

The title in white lettering -- "Quiet Duel" -- is superimposed over an image of something I can't identify. It is pouring rain. The heavy rain is carefully detailed in each of the 10 cuts which follow under the rest of the credits. After the director's credit,

Cut to a sign with an arrow pointing to the left. In white lettering: "1944." We see headlights reflecting off the sign.

Cut to the truck attached to those headlights. It is driving down a muddy road between rows of palm trees. The driving rain continues.

Someone is in front of the giant truck. The driver is yelling something at him. We only hear the sound of the rain.

Several cuts to the inside of this field hospital. People are everywhere. The wounded are being carried in from the truck.

Outside, two doctors are resting, lethargically. One of them, Kyoji Fujisaki (Toshiro Mifune), is smoking a cigarette. He calls out to the other, who seems to have fallen asleep sitting up! Fujisaki lights him a cigarette and removes his surgical mask, bringing the man back to life -- "They never end," Kyoji says.

A patient is begin prepped for surgery. The other doctor says to Fujisaki:

"A bullet's inside..."

Fujisaki, to an aide: "Ringer's solution..."

HORIZONTAL WIPE (to the left) #1

Two men. One is moving the air with a fan, the other holds a light. The fan man turns around to speak to someone (we cannot hear it over the sound of the rain).

Fujisaki, off-camera: "A fly!" The fan man turns his attention back to his job.

At last, the camera slowly pans to the doctors working on the patient -- POV from the fan man, so we see the fan going back and forth.

Fujisaki is sweating. He turns to an aide who swabs his forehead.


"Fast, sir."

Fujisaki looks down at the patient, POV from behind his head, slightly below bed level. There is an uneven cut of everyone looking up and shortly after that

The sound of water dripping...

" in One Wonderful Sunday ... these aural and visual ostinati are used because they irritate. They irritate us, convince us of heat and discomfort, and they irritate Mifune" [DR, p. 55].

Close on the instrument table. Fujisaki puts down a scalpel and picks up a clamp.

Cut to various angles on the doctor working on the patient. He is swabbed again. He goes back to work.

As they are stitching up the wound, it appears that the stitching material breaks. Fujisaki takes off his surgical gloves (close-up on the bloody gloves as they drop to the pan). He goes back to work.

Close on the instrument table. A hand reaches over for a scalpel. The camera stays on the table. A few seconds later the scalpel is set down -- but in reverse position, with the blade sticking out over the edge of the table. The camera remains fixed on the table. We see the doctor's shadow against the white table. Four seconds. He reaches for the scalpel.

Ouch! He has grabbed the blade. [Tell me you didn't wince?] Close on the scalpel dropping, hitting the pan.

Close on the doctor, examining the cut. The other doctor:

"Allright?" To an aide: "Iodine." He dabs some on the cut.

An aide: "His pulse's weak."

Cut to front, slightly overhead angle on the patient -- awake, moaning.

Cut to a longer shot. Fujisaki, to an aide: "Camphor injection."

If you watch carefully, you see that he attempts to put on another surgical glove on his right hand. He quickly gives up on the attempt and goes back to work. He stops and looks at the cut for a moment, then continues...

Cut to a view of all this from the outside, the rain still coming down hard. Fade to black.

The screen still black, we hear the sound of a truck again. As we come up on the scene, we see the trucks roaring by in the background; people and animals trudging along in mid-frame and a bunch of old oil drums in the foreground..

Cut to two men, lying down on a floor. The sunlight streams down on them through the geometric patterns of the windows. One of them has his head bandaged. He speaks:

"I'd like to see my wife. It's been three years."

"There are lots of women around." This is Susumu Nakada (Kenjiro Uemura), the patient from the above scene. The other man turns his head towards Nakada.

"Saying that when you may die for all you know...and you'd be in big trouble if you get a disease!"

Nakada: "But, I might be sent home, thanks to that disease." The other man stares at him:


Fujisaki is standing over the men. "Sup. Pvt. Nakata? Did you have VD?" Fujisaki bends down closer. "You did?" The man nods sheepishly. As Fujisaki straightens up we see his stunned face. More trucks roar by in the background. Close on the doctor. He looks down at his bandaged finger. He walks out. Nakada stick his tongue out.

Cut to the interior of a large room. Fujisaki opens the door and calls out behind him: "Cpl. Horiguchi!" He leaves the door open as he comes into the room. He walks up to the camera; he is examining his finger; Cpl. Horiguchi is in the background.

"I want that Nakata's blood test...his wound's slow in healing. It's Spirochaeta."

"Will Murata reaction do?"

"Yes, and test mine later," he says turning back to Horiguchi.

"Yours too, sir?"

Fujisaki turns again. "My wound was in his blood for an hour." He turns and walks back, leaving Horiguchi in the foreground, stunned. Fujisaki walks over to a window. Fade to black.

Up on someone sitting in a tree, playing the flute. The music is somber, foreboding.

Cut to Horiguchi, reading a paper. We hear Fujisaki's voice:

"Cpl. Horiguchi!" Horiguchi looks up but makes no other move.

"Cpl. Horiguchi!" He finally answers, "Hai!" putting the papers under something and leaving frame left (hold on the empty frame for half a beat, as AK now often does...)

Cut to Fujisaki, sitting, pensive. Horiguchi walks slowly to his side.

"Has the blood test result come? It's been two weeks since I sent mine." Pause. "Those papers from Hqs? Don't hide it!" He takes out a cigarette. "It's clear what the result was." He lights it. "Mine's positive too?"

Horiguchi: "Doctor!"

Doctor: "I know. No salvarsan here?"

"We've got a little."

"Mercurochrome?" No response. "Go."

"Hai." And Horiguchi leaves.

The doctor pulls a photograph from out of his breast pocket -- an old picture of himself and his fiancée, Misao Matsumoto (Miki Sanjo). The drums now loudly accompany the flute. Fujisaki paces the room. Fade to black.

Up on an outdoor street, with white lettering: "1946" Slow rightward pan to a large sign: "Fujisaki Hospital -- Surgeon & Obstetrician" Accordion music -- a sure sign the war is over!

Inside, we see a glum-looking woman, Rui Minegishi (Noriko Sengoku), sitting in the foreground near the base of a staircase, with some activity down the hall in the background.

The doorbell rings. Rui turns her head as we see a man in a uniform come in. They greet each other -- barely -- "Well?" he asks, and she turns her head away. "Doctor?"

Rui: "He's in." The man removes his shoes and comes into the room.

"There's a poor patient," he says, perhaps referring to the family of the little boy in the next scene. He sits in a chair.

"Free again?" she asks him. "It's easier for poor people to die."

"Mad because I wouldn't let you?" he responds. We now know why she looks so depressed. "Not starting over as a nurse?" he asks, tossing his white gloves on the table.

She turns towards him: "What'll I do about the baby? I show so."

"Have it," as he tosses his cap onto the table now. "You'll see how nice it is..."

"Men are selfish! ... If he wants to save me, he should get rid of my baby."

The doorbell rings again. Misao enters. She starts to go through another door. Rui speaks to her:

"He's operating!"

Misao: "Will it take long?"

Rui: "Yes, it's an 'appe'." Misao heads down the hall.

The man in the uniform: "What's 'appe'?"


"'Appe' means appendicitis?" He gets up and moves closer to her. "You talk like a nurse, don't you?" She turns on her chair. The man motions towards Misao. "Is she the young doctor's future bride?"

"She was his fiancée. Miss Imai said he made her wait six years. But he doesn't want to marry her now." She laughs slightly. "Men are all like that!"

"Nonsense! He's a fine doctor!"

"He's eccentric! -- Miss Imai complains -- says it used to be a nice hospital..."

A voice from the other room: "Miss Minegishi! Help me, please!"

Rui begins to walk down the hallway, slowly. Halfway down the hall, she is met by a stretcher being wheeled by, with his family and the doctor at his side. "I'm fine," says the little boy.

Fujisaki: "He'll be all right. No food for 24 hours. No water."

Boy's father: "Can't we take him home?"

Fujisaki: "No, not for a week."

At this the boy's father begins to scream at the little boy: "Eating too much caused it!" He turns to Fujisaki -- "We can't pay 300 or 400 yen a day!"

Boy: "I'll rest up at home. So buy me a glove!" To the doctor: "Can't I go home?"

Doctor: "Batting number?"

Boy: "Number three."

Doctor: "Go to sleep. Dream of home runs. Can't play if you're sick."

They wheel him away. To the boy's father:

"Don't worry about hospital fees. The room's vacant."

The man bows to Kyoji, who turns and walks away, frame left. At the same instant, another doctor in a white coat is walking in the other direction, along side the boy and his family and, as they are wheeled into a room, continues on towards a woman with a baby on her back, at the base of the staircase. His back has been to the camera. He pats the baby on the head: "Happy, aren't you?" This is Konosuie Fujisaki (Takashi Shimura), Kyoji's father. The camera follows him as he moves to the outside of the house.

Through a window, he sees Misao, looking at a photo album. He comes back into this room. "Well..." he says. They bow to each other...

"Here today too? I didn't know it." He sees the flowers she has brought. "Very pretty!" He looks around the room -- "Thanks to you, the place seems livable."

"That?" he asks, referring to the photo album. He picks it up and looks through it. The camera takes us into the album, where we look directly at the photographs [a technique in evidence, and well-executed, from these earliest films to the very end of his career]. We see a page with two photographs on it -- on the upper left is a photo of Misao, Konosuie and Kyoji around a blanket full of dishes -- a picnic; the photo on the lower right seems to be from the same scene.

The camera then pans over to the page on the left -- two photos of Misao and Kyoji. He turns the page -- more photos of the couple, perhaps eating at this picnic...

The shot cuts back to the elder Dr. Fujisaki, looking at the album. His eyes come up and he looks at Misao; her head remains bowed. He goes back to the album...

Cut to the photos themselves, again. Shot of Misao and Kyoji playing "odds and evens" [she has two fingers out; he has all five spread out -- they are laughing] with mountains in the background. They look like they are on a hike.

Cut to a photo from the beach, in their bathing suits.

Cut to another photo, in western clothes, running along the beach.

Cut to a close-up of a photo of the couple -- he has a big hat on and she's smiling;

Cut to another photo by a lake. She is wearing a traditional kimono.

Cut to another photo of him with the big hat -- they're both smiling. Kurosawa telescopes us into an even closer shot of this photo -- so that the couples' heads fill up the entire frame...

Cut back out to the doctor, looking at the album. He pauses, again looking at Misao, still with her head bowed. He laughs:

"We were all young!" She finally looks up and manages a smile.

"Your hair was very black!" He laughs.

"Kyoji was full of mischief." This brings her back to her sad demeanor. She looks away:

"Does war change people so much?"

He closes the album and sets it back down on the table. He walks behind her and faces away -- this creates an interesting filmic effect -- although he is behind her, depthwise, the image is that of two people back-to-back [Bergman-esque]...

"Misao, it's about Kyoji...I don't know what's on his mind recently." Angle change -- he sits down.

"I'm sorry for you. He made you wait for six years. And now, he says he doesn't intend to marry for a while. I can't face you or your parents."

She turns to face him. "Please don't worry if it's about that. I don't mind at all." She whimpers...

Cut to him, looking at her with pity.

Cut back to her, whimpering. "How can I express it? It's strange even to me. About Kyoji and me -- it seems like an old fairy tale..."

Him: "?"

Her: "I'm not a child any more!"

Cut to him, but she still speaks: "I don't mind."

Cut to him, near tears; back to her.

Cut to the father entering a room where Kyoji stands. "See her out!" he barks at his son.

"Yes, but I have another patient I must see..."

"I will. See her out!" Kyoji exits to the left...

HORIZONTAL WIPE (to the right) #1

Misao and Kyoji walking outside the hospital.

Misao: "My father has grown weaker. He seems to have given up hope of our marrying. Recently, he's been asking me about finding someone else."

Kyoji: "Have you found someone?"

Misao: "Think I have?"

Kyoji: "If you have..."

Misao: "...It rests with me?" They stop walking. She turns to face him directly. "What if I say I'll wait until you're ready to marry me?"

"I told you after I returned."

"But you haven't told me why you can't marry me. I'm afraid to ask..." She turns to face him again. "...but I'm ready for the worst. Please tell me!"

He begins to walk again, she falls in behind him. "For example, let's take a man. Just any man. Or a woman. The man or woman may be a virgin, but physically defiled. Can you imagine such a thing?" He has stopped again, still facing away from her...

Cut to Miss Imai, the other nurse, looking through a closet.

"Miss Minegishi!"

Rui lazily kicks open the door. "What?"

"Strange. A box of salvarsan's missing again. Know about it? -- shots for syphilis."

"What?" Rui is angry. "What has it got to do with me?" She advances on Miss Imai. "Don't insult me! I haven't sunk that far! Life would be easier if I were a streetwalker!"

Cut back to the couple in front of the hospital gates, in long shot from across the street. A truck rumbles by. Closer on the couple. She is still behind him. She says:

"You talked about virginity and defilement. I know you haven't inherited such a disease." She comes around to face him again. She pleads:

"Why don't you tell me plainly you don't love me any more?" He remains silent. "I won't come to see you any more! My regards to your father." She scurries off, leaving him there, sulking...

HORIZONTAL WIPE (to the right) #2

Kyoji is wrapping a tourniquet around his left arm. He sits down and preps the arm. He picks up a HUGE needle and injects himself (thankfully on the other side of the arm where the camera cannot see!) He grabs the tourniquet with his teeth and releases it. Rui walks in.

Kyoji: "It's you? You can rest now." She walks over to him.

"You must get tired, Doctor!" She looks at the needle. "I used to have shots when I was a dancer, too." She comes over and picks up the label and realizes what it is he is injecting...
Without a word being spoken, we know that she has come to the wrong conclusion. Her expression changes as she walks out, laughing. "Salvorsan!" Fade to black.

Up on the hallway of the hospital. Accordion music. Children playing. Rui is walking down the hall. Then Kyoji and the other nurse. They enter the room with the little boy. His mother says "good morning."

"Dream about home runs?" Kyoji asks the child.

"No -- about clear, running water. Can I drink some? 24 hours now."

The doctor and nurse are looking him over. "Just a little. Tea's better."

The child looks up at his mother. "I told you I could after 24 hours!" His mother reaches for a teapot. The boy continues: "You're not scientific at all!" This gets a chuckle out of doctor and nurse.

The doctor continues his rounds. The man in the next bed has a cast on his leg. "A flea in my cast, doctor."

"They say so."

"It itches."

Meanwhile, the boy's mother has come back with some tea. "This much?" she asks the nurse.

"Yes." To the boy: "A lot, son."

Mother: "Please."

Boy: "Only this much?" He drinks the tea. "When can I eat?"

Doctor (from a nearby bed): "After gas comes out."

Patient with cast on his leg, bed next to the boy: "It means you're all right in an appendectomy."

"What's gas?"


This cracks the kid up. "What the..." He laughs until it hurts.

HORIZONTAL WIPE (to the left) #2

Kyoji is sitting. He looks up to see Misao. "I came again. My feet turn this way of their own accord." Pause. "You're unhappy, aren't you? Why! Please tell me why! Why do you look so pained? Why did you change so much?"

Kyoji: "I've just grown older!"

Misao: "No! Sometimes you look like a man from another world."

Rui enters the room. "Oh, did I disturb you?" Kyoji walks over to Misao. Rui begins to put things into a shiny box (sterilizing instruments?). Kyoji takes a cigarette out of a case, and plays with it. Kyoji tries to make small talk with Rui:

"Studying for the exams?"

"What exams, sir?"

"Nurse's exams. Don't remain an apprentice."

"Oh, that? Yes, I'm studying but -- is a dancer like me suited to such dedicated work? Even a good nurse like Miss Imai says she's going to quit."

Misao: "I asked her not to."

Kyoji: "Don't force her to stay. It's hard on her low pay..."

Rui is looking at her reflection in the shiny equipment. She speaks to Misao:

"The world's not what you think it is, Miss."

Misao: "Perhaps not. So I don't mind your finding fault with me."

Rui: "Oh, did I find fault with you, Miss?"

Misao, near tears: "No, you didn't. I mean you can comment about me. But I think you should be grateful to Kyoji."

Rui: "Of course. Deserted by a man, I was pregnant and couldn't eat. Doctor saved me when I tried to commit suicide. He even lets me stay here. But if I'd had money then, I would've gotten rid of this! (putting her hand on her belly) -- I would've been having fun now!"

Kyoji: "Why weren't you careful not to have it then?"

Rui: "A man who takes women to hotels. Careful? A baby made him run."

Kyoji: "You can make him pay!"

Rui, shaking her head intensely: "Too bothersome!"

Kyoji: "You're beasts!" At this, Misao, who has been sitting with her head bowed, gets up to leave...

Rui: "Running away, Miss?"

Kyoji: "Minegishi!" She begins to laugh and cry. Kyoji's father walks by the room.

Kyoji: "Your baby has eyes and a nose now."

Rui: "You pride yourself on being a humanitarian? But why does a man so divine use salvarsan?"

Cut to Kyoji's father in the hallway, overhearing this.

Cut back to Kyoji and Rui. "Life's interesting, isn't it, with so many secrets?"

She is turned towards Kyoji with one hand on the doorknob of the door, behind her. She turns the doorknob.

Cut to the hallway. The father, hearing the door begin to open, turns and heads the other way -- but he freezes -- his back to the camera.

Rui comes out of the room and heads towards the camera. Her expression is pained.

HORIZONTAL WIPE (to the right) #3

Rui is sitting down, her back to the camera. Miss Imai enters and speaks:

"Was I surprised! The Doctor called out when I put out the office light. They're both up yet. An important talk, it seems." She is rubbing her leg. She lies down. "The hospital's in the red?"

Rui: "You're simple aren't you? Can't tell what they're up to?"

Miss Imai: "I wonder."

Rui: "Do you know who took the salvarsan? That's why I say you're simple." She gets up and moves to the door. Miss Imai follows her with her eyes. She says something untranslated, probably asking what she's doing...

Rui: "Eavesdropping. I like to -- I hear the truth sometimes." She is standing over Miss Imai. "I'm going to make that hypocrite eat his words! He called me a beast! He's one too!" She slams the door behind her...

Cut to Kyoji and his father, sitting.

[What follows is ludicrous, even given plenty of dramatic license. With a quick word about the truth, Kyoji could have disabused his father of the notion that he contracted a social disease immorally...but for the sake of the script, Kurosawa presents this forced scene...]

Father: "I shouldn't have asked. I wish you'd denied what Minegishi said. I didn't want to believe you use salvarsan. I can't believe it. I can't." Kyoji looks over at his father, who is still staring straight ahead. "Symptoms?"

Kyoji: "The Wassermann reaction's three plus."

Cut to the outside of the room. Rui is standing to the left of the door, eavesdropping. We can see father and son through the window.

Father: "Aren't you ashamed of yourself? I can't excuse you for Misao's sake!"

Kyoji: "Father, I..."

Father: "Don't make excuses." Long pause. Finally, Kyoji tells the true story:

"Spirochaeta entered my body during an operation." Father turns and stares at Kyoji. "The patient had a very bad case of syphilis. When I heard of it, I expected the worst. And it turned out as I had thought." Music. Father sits down next to son.

"I'm ashamed of my despicable thoughts about you."

Kyoji: "It's..."

Father: "No, there are times even a parent should apologize. Forgive me!" They bow to each other. "Why didn't you tell me sooner about it? [That's what I want to know!] I couldn't make you out after you returned from the war." He offers his son a cigarette. Father and son each try to light each other's cigarette. They laugh. They finally use Kyoji's lighter.

"I know now why you refuse to marry Misao. Why you're dedicated to unhappy people. But from my experience, misfortune warps the mind. Aren't you being too fastidious in Misao's case?"

Kyoji: "I don't know if it will take three or five years to become well. Without proper treatment at the front, I aggravated it."

Father: "How old is Misao?"

"She's 27."

"Shouldn't you tell her the truth? It would make it easier to give you up." This seems to upset Kyoji. He gets up and walks around.

"I can't. I've thought it over carefully but I can't."

Father: "Why?"

"If I'm frank with her, she'd say she'd wait until I'm well. I'd force her to. She'd keep her word too. She's like that."

Father, rising: "Then..."

"I can't drive her into a situation like that!" They both sit down again. The sound of a harmonica and laughter.

Cut to a woman in the hallway, laughing. The man playing the harmonica can be seen in the background.

Miss Imai sticks her head out of a door: "Mr. Kondo! Mr. Kondo! Be quiet! It's past 11!"

Kondo: "It came out! It came out!"

Miss Imai: "What came out?"

Kondo: "The boy's gas!" Goes back to playing the harmonica.

Close cuts on the boy, his mother and six other patients -- back to Kondo; and Miss Imai, smiling:

"Be quiet or the Doctor will scold you!" But they are not quiet. Kondo continues his playing. Miss Imai returns to her bed, taking something to eat out of a wrapping. Rui walks in. Miss Imai asks her:

"What was the talk about?" Rui walks forward, slowly. "Want one?" She offers some of her food...

Rui walks over to her bed and jumps in and pulls the cover over her head...

Cut to the doctors. Fade to black.

Up on Kyoji, from the rear. Misao's voice:

"Your father came over yesterday. To break off our engagement. But no matter how often I'm told, I don't know why you want to break it off." The camera now includes her in the shot...

"Half of me has given up all hope. The other half desperately wants to know the reason."

Kyoji: "I'm sorry. I think I let you spoil me. There's no woman in our family, so you come and look after us. I asked you not to. Yet I presumed on your kindness. Please don't come here any more."

Misao, defiantly: "I'll come tomorrow and every day!" More meekly: "What do you want to eat today?"

A soft knock. Rui enters Misao leaves quickly.

Rui: "The appe boy wants to say goodbye before he goes home." She leans against the wall.

He is looking for something. He finds it. It is a baseball glove. He leaves Rui standing alone in the room.

Cut to another room; Misao is preparing food. Rui walks in slowly. Misao turns away.


She comes closer to Misao. "I intend to take the nurse's examination."

Misao: "I see. Kyoji will be very glad."

Rui: "I'll have my baby too."

Misao: "A change of heart?"

Rui, turning to face Misao: "Miss? It's a funny thing to ask. But will you tell him that I think he's a fine doctor?" She turns to leave, but hesitates. She turns to Misao again:

"I was wrong about many things. I should apologize to him. But I can't. Even telling you this much is a nice feeling." She leaves. Misao turns towards the window...

Cut to outside POV -- looking at Misao looking out the window at

Cut to the wall, outside the clinic, flowers in bloom. Fade to black.

Up on the same wall, no flowers. The sound of a cold wind. The camera peers into the clinic hallway from the outside. Children are running. Rui is studying a book.

Cut to inside. The doorbell rings. The man in the uniform enters. "Studying?"

Rui: "No advancement in remaining an apprentice."

Man: "You've changed. How's your son?"

Rui: "He's asleep."

Man: "Adorable, isn't he?"

Rui: "I ... he's just a nuisance."

Man, laughing: "Sharp tongue hasn't changed?"

Rui: "Free patient?"

Man: "Not this time. I came for the doctor. A man's hurt."

HORIZONTAL WIPE (to the left) #3

From behind -- the doctor and uniformed man, who walks a bicycle along his side ... "It's crazy. My buddy was beaten up in a routine police check. By a gentleman at that!"

HORIZONTAL WIPE (to the right) #4

A man is in a bed, his head bandaged. Next to him is Kyoji. In the foreground, on the far left and right of the frame are two other policemen. One of the policemen says:

"Like a mad dog!"

Injured man: "He used his walking stick" (pantomiming the injury).

Kyoji: "Then I should examine the man's head?" Two more policemen enter the scene.

"The man?"

"Questioning him." Tea is poured. The doctor gets up to leave. To the injured man:

"Come when you're free."

"Thank you." They all bow to him.

Cut to doctor, leaving, putting on his gloves. He hears the policemen interrogated someone.


"1 - 11, Atago-cho, Minato-ku."


"Susumu Nakata." The doctor stops. The officer sees him looking in the window:

"Thank you, doctor. How is he?"

"Not very bad -- be well in a week. Excuse me." He comes around, into the office. "Nakata?" he asks, looking at the suspect. "Hello -- it's you?" Nakada stares at him.

HORIZONTAL WIPE (to the left) #4

Accordion music. A bar. The walls are painted with naked women cavorting with mythological satyr-type creatures. Nakada is preparing to light a cigarette. He comes over and sits down next to Kyoji.

"Thank you for helping me during the war."

Kyoji: "Since then?"

Nakada: "The wound closed after I got back home."

Kyoji: "You saw a specialist about that?"

Nakada: "Yes, a long time. I'm well now."

Kyoji: "The doctor said so?"

Nakada, impatiently: "No end to it -- listening to a doctor."

Kyoji: "But half-way cures are dangerous..."

Nakada: "Yes, but I'm all cured." He shakes up the gambling cubes...

HORIZONTAL WIPE (to the right) #5

Kyoji, sitting up on a table in the clinic. Rui enters, bringing him tea.

Kyoji: "Baby asleep?"

Rui: "The doctor's holding him. Poor doctor. He should be holding his grandchild." She looks up at Kyoji. "Your shot?"

Kyoji: "Yes please."

Rui: "How was your last blood test?" She is preparing the shot.

Kyoji: "Two Plus."

"How long must you continue the shots?"

"I continue for three months, rest a month, and start again. I repeat it until I'm well."

"How long will that take?"

"I aggravated it -- so I'm not at all sure."

"I hate the man who gave it to you! Is he still alive?"

He stares at her. "I heard it all," she admits.

"From father?"

"No. When I was pregnant, you two talked here late one night. It's lonelier here than then, isn't it? Miss Imai quits and the young lady doesn't come more."

Kyoji: "Found a man, I think." Camera moves in close on him.

Cut to an angle on both:

"Doctor, don't you hate him?" He doesn't answer. "The man who gave it to you -- I'd curse him to death!" Silence. Fade to black.

Up on Nakada and Kyoji, at a bar.

Nakada, rising: "Stubborn, aren't you?" He moves to a couch where he lies down. "I'm not your patient now."

Kyoji: "But, as a doctor, it's my duty to warn you."

Nakada: "So I said I'm all well now."

Kyoji: "You just think so? That's dangerous." He puts his hat on the table and rises, walking over to Nakada. "Was your spinal fluid a minus?"

Nakada: "I never think of unpleasant things."

Kyoji: "Other people's happiness and peace must be considered too." The man turns to the doctor:

"What do you mean?"

Close on Kyoji. He pauses. He sits. "Four years ago ... remember what I said on the day you were sent home? About Spirochaeta..."

Nakada: "You can get it from saliva? But my wife's fine."

Kyoji, immediately concerned: "Wife?"

Nakada, laughing off the doctor's concern: "The baby's well too. It isn't born yet. I'll bring a big fat baby and show you in six months or so." Nakada sits up. "How about it? Surprised?" He falls back down to the couch...

Kyoji: "Yes -- at your recklessness. I don't want to say it..."

Cut to a new angle, on Nakada, over doctor's left shoulder -- both men fill the frame...

"...but I must to have you think it over seriously. Your Spirochaeta is in me too." Nakada looks at him.

"While operating on you, it entered from a finger wound." Nakada is sitting up. He rises and shouts:

"That's pure nonsense!" He goes over to the table and pours a drink and throws it back.

"Listen to me. Would I lie about a thing like this?" Nakada pours another drink. Kyoji rises.

"I'm not well yet. I'm still continuing my treatment."

Nakada freaks out. He grabs a bottle and screams: "Trying to blame things on me!"

Kyoji disengages and pushes him away. "Come tomorrow with your wife!"

Nakada: "Who would?"

Kyoji: "Father's an obstetrician. He'll do all he can do for the baby." He leaves.

Nakada grabs the bottle as if to throw it at him. The bar girl screams. Close up on the table -- he pours himself another drink, the saké overflowing the glass, and spilling out. Fade to black.

Up on a fancy car [this man is obviously a yakuza (gangster)] outside the clinic -- it is raining heavily!

Cut to inside the clinic -- a man's leg is shaking. It is Nakada. A door opens and out comes his wife, Takiko (Chieko Nakakita). She looks stunned. He gets up and faces her outside the doorway.

"Through?" She nods her head. "What'd he say?"

"He wants to talk to you." He takes off his hat and hands it to her (along with his coat and briefcase) as he walks through the door. The camera remains on Takiko, as she sits in the chair where he had been previously sitting. She stirs some food which is cooking near a table in the waiting room. Rui is shuffling down the hallway with a tray. She comes over to the food and begins stirring and tasting.

Takiko: "Hard work, isn't it? A patient's baby?"

Rui: "No, mine."

Takiko: "I see. When was the baby born?"

Rui: "Exactly 52 days ago."

Takiko: "You count each day?"

Rui, not realizing what she said: "Hm?"

Takiko: "You answered right off."

Rui: "Yes, without really meaning to -- I mark it on the calendar, so I count the day."

Cut to a new angle, square on Takiko.

Rui: "You're having a baby, too?" Before she can answer, we hear Nakada's voice, screaming at Kyoji.

"Did you call me here to shame me?"

Kyoji: "Nonsense. I purposely didn't tell your wife, did I?"

Father: "I'm sorry we offended you. But I must be truthful as a doctor. In her condition, I'm afraid trouble's bound to happen."

Nakada: "What? What do you mean?" Pause. He rises, angrily: "It'll be an idiot or a cripple?"

Father also rises. Pause. "Perhaps so. But not if she's treated at once. If she isn't, it may be a stillborn."

Nakada: "You're not the only doctor..."

Kyoji: "I'll talk to him father, so..." Father bows and leaves.

Cut to outside the room -- Rui has been eavesdropping...she moves away as father comes out..

Cut to back inside the room.

Kyoji: "Let's talk it over quietly. To keep danger to the minimum." They both have cigarettes ready to light. Kyoji offers Nakada his lighter. Nakada moves forward to light the cigarette -- but right before he is about to do so, he looks at Kyoji and blows the flame out -- he taps Kyoji on the shoulder, saying:

"It's not your kid, so you're calm but it's my first child!"

"That's why," Kyoji barks at him. "That's why I warned you not to cause misfortune. I told you to have it cured and not to scatter Spirochaeta. It's like pushing people off a cliff." Kyoji sits down. "It's not anyone's fault but yours."

Nakada now sits down. He realizes, finally, his guilt. Takiko enters the room, her head down. The doctor rises.

"May I join you?"

Nakada: "Were you listening?"

"Yes." Nakada stands. We hear a baby crying.

Cut to Rui with her baby.

Cut back to Takiko, seated, her head in her hands, crying...

Kyoji, standing: "Mrs. Nakata. I intended to tell your husband, and let you two work things out between you."

Nakada, also standing: "No use crying over spilt milk. I'll be more careful."

Takiko: "You don't seem concerned."

Nakada: "Men all talk like this. In my mind, I'm thinking." He looks at Kyoji. "Right?"

He sits again, his back to his wife. She says: "I'm not thinking of having you apologize to me. It wouldn't do any good now anyway."

Kyoji: "Can't things be worked out satisfactorily? I'm a bachelor, I wouldn't know about couples. But won't your feelings change if you talk it over quietly?"

Cut to Nakada; cut to Takiko. "Perhaps so..." Cuts to all, finally on Nakada:

"Anyway, let's go home."

HORIZONTAL WIPE (to the left) #5

Close on the back window of the Nakada car. It is still raining heavily. We see the back of Nakada's head. The camera remains in place as the car pulls away, and we see the back of both Nakada heads. At the very end of this shot, we can see Misao, walking in the opposite direction (towards the clinic) with an umbrella, carrying her little baskets, etc., as usual.

Cut to Rui, at the doors of the clinic, looking out into the rain. She turns to go back inside, but then turns around again when she sees Misao coming. She grabs a package from Misao.

"We haven't seen you for quite awhile!"

Misao: "The wedding date's been set."

Rui: "Getting married?"

Misao: "Father's become very weak. Women are no good."

Rui: "But you've a will of your own?"

Misao: "Yes, I thought so, Kyoji in?"

Cut to him, staring out a window. She comes into the room.

"How do you do?" They bow and smile. "I read your letter."

Misao: "The day was decided, so I'm busy." She is beginning to unpack her food supplies, as usual. "Your dinner?"

Kyoji: "Please don't worry. Miss Minegishi does it all. But she's not a very good cook."

Misao: "It's been on my mind. In the evenings, I'm busy but I'd remember your kitchen." Silence.

"Some tea?" he asks her, breaking it...

She looks up at him, serious -- but then smiles and says: "Yes, please. I'll be your guest today. Like the first time I came here."

Kyoji: "Excuse me." The camera remains on Misao. Music. She looks around the room, trying to memorize the details. She goes to the window and fiddles with the blinds. The camera moves to an interesting close-up shot out the window -- a tree gathering snow, shot far enough back from the window to take in the black, separating panes, as well. More filmic geometry.

Cut to her things on the table.

Cut to Misao, sitting on the couch. "Thinking?" Kyoji asks, off-camera. Misao rises:

"No, not especially." He arrives with tea.

"I'll worry." He sits on the couch, putting the teapot down, but still holding the tray.

"Please..." motioning for her to sit. She does.

He brings over a chair and puts the tray on it. He gets the teapot, she starts to take it from him -- he won't let her:

"You're a guest." He is smiling, pouring the tea.

Misao: "If you loved someone else, it'd be easier for me to give you up. Perhaps, judging from your nature..."

He gives her tea. He takes his and begins to drink. She begins to cry.

" think that we must part when my mind's so undecided!" Embarrassed at her outburst, she picks up her cup and starts to drink...

"...the wedding?"


"Tomorrow? Very sudden, isn't it?"


"You'll become happy."

"Thank you."

"You've been very kind." Pause. "What time tomorrow?"

"At two. We leave on our honeymoon at five."

"Trains crowded?"

"It seems so." She gets up to avoid his eyes. "Will you laugh at me?" He gets up and moves close to her.

"Why?" Music.

"You change your mind suddenly, kidnap me, and take me away! You even leave your work here!"

He grabs her and is about to kiss her. Suddenly they break...

Dissolve to the wall outside. It is snowing. Organ music.

Dissolve back to the couple, inside the room. Kyoji turns away.

Misao: "I'm going home." She starts to gather her things. "I haven't time to cook for you today." She takes some things from her basket and sets them down. "I'll leave these here."
She also leaves a small potted plant.

Kyoji, his head bowed: "Please become happy. I can't say it enough."

Misao, through tears: "I may become happy. But I'm not at all sure about you!" She begins to cry. He turns away.

"Please go now."

"Your father?"

"Playing with nurse's baby."

"It's best not to see him?"

"Yes. He misses people -- he'd feel lonely."

"Please remember me to him."

"Goodbye. I won't see you out."

"I'd rather you didn't." She turns and leaves. The camera remains on his back.

Cut to outside the hospital. It is snowing. Misao leaves. Rui comes out and watches. A train whistle sounds, twice.

Cut to Kyoji inside. Rui joins him. "Your shot?"

"Hmm." She begins to get it ready.

"It's really goodbye between you and her?"

"A fine person."

"Miss Imai used to wonder why you didn't act like other men. Even if you didn't marry her, you couldn't do without all your life."

Kyoji: "Miss Imai was practical."

Rui, preparing the shot: "Doctor, can men control themselves so easily?"

"Why do you ask me?"

"You're so calm."

"Two types of patients -- some cry with pain, others sweat it out."

"Then you're the type to sweat it out?"

"I hate to admit defeat -- and I'm a doctor."

"But doctors are human beings, aren't they?"

"Yes." Long pause. "I thought I could forget everything when she married." He now rises and shouts out:

"But I can't!" He walks over to the window. "I'm fighting desperately now to curb my desires. I feel sorry for myself. Young and fastidious before the war, I suppressed it. It was the same during the war. The thought of Misao and a peaceful home sustained me!" This last part, nearly crying. He sits down on the couch.

"But one day, without having fooled around myself, my blood was contaminated by a man's diseased blood!" He kicks over the chair. "If I'd known it would makes me think sometimes!" He gets up again. "I don't know when I can satisfy my desires!" He turns towards Rui:

"Why must I suffer like this? I have syphilis! But it's not my fault or the result of playing around!" He begins to cry -- "I'm pure yet my desires unfulfilled! It's intolerable sometimes! But my conscience tries to crush out my physical desires." He throws his stethoscope. "My stupid conscience!"

Rui has walked up to him. He turns to her:

"Why can't I disregard it and give in to my desires? I'd be more honest as a man! -- My abstinence is comical. It's only sentimentalism! Misao is a woman with the body of an ordinary woman! I've wanted her for six years! Must I watch another man get her? It's not too late. I can get her back yet. Isn't it so? Don't you think so, Minegishi?" He grabs her by the shoulders and shakes her...

She begins to cry as well. Forty-five seconds until he says:

"I'm afraid I made a fool of myself." He bends down and picks up his stethoscope.

"I'm a doctor. My conscience as a doctor and man -- I must live with both" -- pause -- "no matter how painful it is."

Rui: "But Doctor...what if someone offers you an outlet? A woman who doesn't mind the disease."

"What do you mean?"

"I don't intend to marry again. So I'm willing to do it."

"Out of a sense of sacrifice? Nonsense."

"I may love you, Doctor. Aren't hospitals strange? We can say anything in a business-like way..."

Kyoji rises and as if to prove her point, changes the subject:

"The card on the man I operated on?" He picks up the chart. "A high fever? I'll look at him. Get ready." He washes his hands. "Some gauze," he says to her as he walks out the door. Fade to black.

Up on the wall outside, still covered with a layer of snow, melting...

Cut to a view of Kyoji in the clinic from outside the window. Rui walks into the room.

Kyoji: "A card from Misao."

Rui: "Is she happy?"

Kyoji: "Yes. She says the snow at Hakone is beautiful."

Rui: "She hates to admit defeat, too?"

Kyoji: "She can build her own happiness."

Rui: "By sweating it out?" She leaves the room. He examines the card.

Cut to Rui, coming out of the room. She sees Takiko in the waiting room. "Oh, you're here?"

Takiko, weakly: "Doctor?"

Rui: "Yes, he's in. I didn't notice you." Takiko begins to stand up, but falls back down. Rui rushes over to her side:

"Doctor! Doctor!"

HORIZONTAL WIPE (to the right) #6

Father comes running out of a room shouting: "Kyoji, Kyoji..."

He comes into Kyoji's room -- "Operation."

Kyoji: "So bad? An abortion's..."

Father: "...No. The baby's pulse has stopped." They leave the room.

HORIZONTAL WIPE (to the right) #7

The camera is focused on the floor. A pair of young feet shuffle by. The camera comes up on this little boy (wearing a cap) and Takiko, on a stretcher.

Boy: "Where are you sick?"

Takiko doesn't answer.

"I want to get on this." He begins to move the stretcher.

Takiko: "You mustn't be naughty."

Kyoji comes out. "Here, here, son!" The boy leaves.

Rui opens a pair of doors. The doctor to Takiko:

"An operation without your husband?"

Takiko: "I left, intending never to return to Nakata."

Kyoji: "But..."

Takiko: "Didn't he cause you great trouble, Doctor?"

Kyoji: "What?" trying to maintain innocence...

Takiko: "During the war, about something? He said you just made up the story." Rui stares at her.

"Recently, I believe just the opposite of what he says. A foolish couple."

From the other room, Father:

"Better hurry!" They wheel her into another room. Rui closes the doors. The camera remains in the hallway, staring at nothing...

Dissolve -- they are wheeling her out.

Kyoji: "All through!"

Takiko: "My baby?" Kyoji looks at Rui; Rui at Takiko...

"I thought so ... may I see the baby once?"

"No!" shouts Rui...

"I think it's better you didn't," adds Kyoji...

We hear the doorbell. And shouting:

"...say, Fujisaki!" It is Nakada, drunk. Rui yells in to Father:

"Help us if you're free!"

Rui rushes the drunk man. "You're drunk?"

"Too bad I am!" He breaks away from Rui ... "say, Fujisaki!"

Rui pins him against a wall. "Be quiet! This isn't the gay quarters!" He shoves her to the floor.

"Say Fujisaki! Fujisaki!"

Kyoji appears.

Nakada: "What right have you to ruin another man's family? You've made it a mess! You talked too much! The word's [world's?] not what you think it is! A goody-goody doesn't know how people suffer!"

Kyoji: "You mean you don't!" Nakada grabs him but doesn't get very far. "Do you know how your wife suffered while you were drunk?"

Nakada: "What? Fussed about an operation, I heard. Don't you dare do it! Say, where's Takiko?"

Kyoji: "You can't see her like this!" He pushes him away.

Nakada: "I can! She's my wife!"

Kyoji: "She can't be disturbed..."

Nakada: "Shut up! Always picking a fight with me!"

Kyoji: "You are!"

Nakada: "What? Who found fault with my baby? Who said I spread a disease?" Cut to Rui as he speaks this next:

"You fooled around in secret, that's what, and made it up." Rui, realizing the truth, walks over to him and shouts:

"You gave him that disease?"

Nakada: "What a face! Like doctor, like nurse..." She slaps him, hard. He is stunned. He falls backwards, opening a door.

Rui, screaming: "You beast!" Kyoji is holding her back. "You don't know how he's suffering! Not only the doctor! Your wife and baby, too! See what your child looks like!"

Cut to close on Nakada. The camera pulls back as he simulates an attack on Rui. The doctor holds him back.

Rui: "Think I'm lying? Go to the operating room!" She walks back to Kyoji and Nakada. To Kyoji: "It's best to let him see the baby!" He throws Kyoji back into the room, and glass shatters, as Kyoji careens into the shelves...

Nakada is backing Rui up against the staircase with his walking stick (the same weapon he used previously against the policeman!) -- we hear a baby crying...

Close on Nakada. He goes towards the crying. Father comes out and tries to restrain him from the front, while Kyoji tries from behind. Nakada breaks away and enters the room. The doctors run after him.

[We can only assume that the child has gross birth defects from the following scene.]

The camera remains, silent, in the hallway. We hear a scream.

Cut to Rui on the steps. She appears to be reading something. [Rui is one tough customer. The abusive, drunk husband has just thrown her to the floor and gone into the operating room, as she dared him to just a few seconds ago -- and she is calmly sitting on the steps, studying for her nurse's exam?] She reacts to the scream. The remaining patients in the clinic, silently, line up behind her!

The doctors bring Nakada out -- each holding an arm -- he has obviously fainted from the shock of seeing the deformed child. They let him go, he slumps down to the floor.

The "filmic geometry" is worth mentioning here:

The camera, at the end of the hallway, looks out on:

Father and son, left and right fore-frame, with the slumped Nakada at lower center...

In the background, Rui is at center frame, with all the patients behind her. Rui walks towards Nakada. Her anger has turned to pity.

"Doctor, he..."

Kyoji: "It's bad..."

Father: "Just a question of time. Spirochaeta's damaged his brain." Father walks away.

Cut to Father, walking into the room with all the smashed glass. He is dialing the phone. A loose pane of glass falls to the ground.

Cut to Nakada, looking quite mad.

By the way,

"...In the original ending Mifune went mad with spectacular results ... the doctor {who consulted on the film} told Kurosawa that the ending would have to be changed, that it would terrify people and no one would come for medical aid..." [DR, p. 55]

Kyoji tries to shake him out of it. "Nakata! Nakata!" He looks down him, sadly. Fade to black.

Up on a clothesline, fluttering in the wind -- Rui ducks under the line, and turns her head towards a room inside:

"How are you?"

Cut to inside POV, looking out. We see Takiko in bed and Rui outside. "I'm all right now." Pause. "But I still think sometimes that I'm going to have a baby."

Cut to Rui, close. Takiko's voice:

"Miss Minegishi." Rui turns.

Cut back to inside POV -- Takiko from behind -- "Please tell me ... will I become like Nakata in the end?"

Rui, with great seriousness: "Nonsense!" -- ducking into the room -- "You needn't be afraid of it! -- But you must be prepared to have treatments a long time -- like our doctor."

Takiko: "Is it true? Then there's hope for me?"

"Of course. You have no children yet. You can make a fresh start."

Cut to Takiko, pondering this. Rui continues:

"I have a child, but I think so, too. People shouldn't walk looking down." Cut back to Rui, directly: "Throw out your chest and look up." She laughs. "I'm just telling you what the doctor said."

The sun is shining in her face. Pull back to reveal Takiko playfully using a mirror to reflect the sun in Rui's face! "You like him?" She doesn't answer, but instead goes back outside to her laundry. She calls out to someone:

"Miss Akimoto, please help me!"

Cut to the downstairs hallway. A nurse is walking up the stairs. Father has Rui's baby in his arms. Her policeman friend is sitting in the waiting room.

"A new nurse?"

"Yes. Minegishi's strict. Hard on her."

"Like Imai was to her."

The two men fawn over the infant.

Policeman: "Your mother's become a full-fledged nurse." To Father:

"By the way, know what my Chief calls the young doctor? That he's a saint among doctors."

Father: "Saint? A holy man?"


"I wonder. He's regaining hope by being with less fortunate people. If he had been happy, he might not have amounted to much."

Cut to the room with Misao's plant that she left on her last visit. It is blooming. Close up on the flower.

Cut to the two doctors and Rui, doing an operation. We hear the patient's voice:

"Help me, sir. I have four kids! Doctor, I'll become so I can work again? Doctor?"

The three work steadily and intensely. The camera comes to rest on Kyoji, working hard. Rui swabs his forehead -- fade to black.

White letters: "The End"



Stephen Prince: "The Warrior's Camera: The Cinema of Akira Kurosawa," (Princeton University Press (1991/1999) [SP]

Donald Richie: "The Films of Akira Kurosawa," University of California Press (1998) [DR]

James Goodwin: "Akira Kurosawa and Intertextual Cinema," The John Hopkins University Press (1994) [JG]

Stuart Galbraith IV: "The Emperor and the Wolf: The Lives and Films of Akira Kurosawa and Toshiro Mifune," Faber and Faber (2001) [SG]

Akira Kurosawa: "Something Like an Autobiography," Vintage Books (1983) [AK]


HORIZONTAL WIPE (to the right) -- 7
HORIZONTAL WIPE (to the left) -- 5
VERTICAL WIPE (top to bottom) -- 0
VERTICAL WIPE (bottom to top) -- 0

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