The Idiot (1951 film)

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The Idiot
Hakuchi poster.jpg
Original Japanese poster showing Toshirō Mifune (left), Masayuki Mori (centre) and Setsuko Hara (right)
Directed by Akira Kurosawa
Produced by Takashi Koide
Written by Akira Kurosawa
Eijirō Hisaita
Based on The Idiot by
Fyodor Dostoevsky
Starring Setsuko Hara
Yoshiko Kuga
Toshiro Mifune
Masayuki Mori
Takashi Shimura
Noriko Sengoku
Music by Fumio Hayasaka
Cinematography Toshio Ubukata
Edited by Akira Kurosawa
Distributed by Shochiku
Release dates
23 May 1951 (Japan)
30 April 1963 (US)
Running time
166 minutes
Country Japan
Language Japanese

The Idiot (白痴 Hakuchi?) is a 1951 Japanese film directed by Akira Kurosawa. The movie is based on the novel of the same name by Fyodor Dostoevsky.


After narrowly escaping death during efforts in a recent war, Kameda returns to Japan from Okinawa, where he has been confined to an asylum. Because he is subject to seizures of epilepsy, he is considered to be mentally ill. During his journey home, he becomes acquainted with the wealthy Akama. Inadvertently, the two fall in love with the same woman, Taeko; in addition, Kameda is attracted to Ayako, another woman who returns his affection. Kameda soon realizes that he prefers Taeko and is disheartened to find that she is another man's mistress. He offers her money in return for her love, but she throws the money into a fire and gives herself to him. Akama learns of the affair, resulting in a quarrel between him and Kameda. Realizing that he has lost Taeko, Akama stabs her, and both men go mad with grief.


Setsuko Hara in The Idiot

Production background[edit]

The film is based on the novel The Idiot by Fyodor Dostoevsky, and was filmed in black and white at an aspect ratio of 1.37:1. This was Kurosawa's second film for the Shochiku studio, after the previous year's Scandal.

Originally intended to be a two-part film with a running time of 265 minutes, the film was severely cut at the request of the studio, against Kurosawa's wishes, after a single poorly received screening of the full-length version. When the re-edited version was also deemed too long by the studio, Kurosawa sardonically suggested the film be cut lengthwise instead.[1] According to Japanese film scholar Donald Richie, there are no existing prints of the original 265-minute version. Kurosawa would return to Shochiku forty years later to make Rhapsody in August, and, according to Alex Cox, is said to have searched the Shochiku archives for the original cut of the film to no avail.

"Of all my films, people wrote to me most about this one... ...I had wanted to make The Idiot long before Rashomon. Since I was little I've liked Russian literature, but I find that I like Dostoevsky the best and had long thought that this book would make a wonderful film. He is still my favourite author, and he is the one — I still think — who writes most honestly about human existence."

—Akira Kurosawa[2]

See also[edit]


  1. ^ Mitsuhiro Yoshimoto. "The Idiot essay". Masters of Cinema. Retrieved 22 May 2009. 
  2. ^ "The Idiot". Masters of Cinema. Retrieved 2007-09-09. 

External links[edit]