Kidnapping -- Japan -- Drama, McBain, Ed. King's ransom -- Film and video adaptations

High and Low

(Tengoku to jigoku)
(The Ransom), (King's Ransom), (Heaven and Hell)


Toshiro Mifune, Kyoko Kagawa, Tsutomu Yamazaki, Tatsuya Nakadai,

Kurosawa’s adaptation of an American detective novel is both a superb, suspenseful thriller, and a Dostoyevskian metaphysical probe into the ambiguities of guilt and innocence. In one of his finest performances, Toshiro Mifune portrays a wealthy executive who must pay ransom for the release of his chauffeur’s son when the boy is mistaken for his son by a kidnapper. Kurosawa creates a constant, often ironic interplay between high and low, heaven and hell, presenting the case from the perspective of the wealthy man’s hilltop home, then from the kidnapper’s realm below, where the action descends for a manhunt that is a dazzling piece of filmmaking. The final confrontation, in which the weary father and accusatory kidnapper are separated only by the reflecting glass of a prison visiting room, epitomizes the moral anguish in which High and Low abounds.

Judy Bloch
  • Akira Kurosawa
  • Hideo Oguni
Based On
  • King’s Ransom by Ed McBain

  • Asakazu Nakai
  • Takao Saito
  • Japanese
  • with English subtitles
Print Info
  • B&W
  • 'Scope 35mm
  • 143 mins
  • Janus Films

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Kurosawa & Mifune (program note), Film Forum (New York), 2002

Kurosawa and Mifune (program note), Cinematheque Ontario/a division of Toronto International Film Festival Group, James Quandt, 2002

Akira Kurosawa (article), American Film, Gerald Peary, 1989

High and low (review), Film Month, 1986

Second sight: Kurosawa's ruthless people (review), Boston Phoenix, Charles Taylor, 1986

The films of Akira Kurosawa (press release), Pacific Film Archive, 1974

Tengoku to jigoku (review), Monthly Film Bulletin, D.W., 1967

High and low (review), Sight and Sound, Robert Vas, 1967

The films of Akira Kurosawa -- excerpt (book excerpt), University of California Press, Donald Richie, 1965

High and low (review), Seventh Art, The, Brian St. Pierre, 1964

Displaying 10 of 22 publicly available documents.

View all High and Low documentation on CineFiles.