Japan | 104 min.
black & white
Akira Kurosawa, 1950
Akira Kurosawa’s Scandal — as relevant now as when made — is a pointed attack on the rising power of the press and their practices in the newly-Americanised postwar Japan of 1950. Kurosawa was outraged by the gutter press’ actions, where “personal privacy is never respected”, and by how the public’s voyeuristic tendency to delve deeper into the lives of celebrities only encouraged this disrespect. Stirred to broaden his film’s scope, Kurosawa made the film a study of personal honour, one which highlights the need for ordinary individuals to speak out against injustice and corruption.
On holiday in the snow-covered mountains, young painter Ichiro Aoye (Toshiro Mifune) has a chance meeting with the popular singer Miyako Saijo (Shirley Yamaguchi). After giving her a ride back to the hotel where they are both staying, Ichiro is photographed with Miyako by paparazzi. A magazine creates an exposé of their ‘secret romance’ based around this photograph, and the brooding Ichiro ignites a bitter and dirty libel case in order to restore their honour.
Scandal stars many great Japanese actors of the time including Noriko Sengoku (Drunken Angel, Seven Samurai) and Takashi Shimura (Ikiru, Seven Samurai), who delivers one of his finest performances as the defence lawyer emotionally torn between right and wrong. Kurosawa’s film stands as a fascinating one-man blast against the origins of press intrusion. The Masters of Cinema Series is proud to present Scandal for the first time on home video in the UK.
by Joan Mellen, 2006