The Silent Duel

Japan 1949, 95 mins
Director: Akira Kurosawa

An idealistic young doctor is unwittingly infected with a patient’s syphilitic blood. Although determined to continue his vocation, his medical condition has a profound effect on his relationship with the woman he loves, while the man who infected him comes to play a significant role in his life. Kurosawa and Mifune create the first of their noble heroes in Kyoji Fujisaki, a man committed to service and whose values lay in the betterment of society over the individual.

Kurosawa’s fraught, dark melodrama ventures into territory that no Hollywood film of the era would have gone near. It opens in ominous fashion, with an immense rainstorm. The plotline is grim in the extreme: Toshiro Mifune plays an overworked surgeon who contracts syphilis from a patient – a disease that in 1940s Japan was well-nigh incurable. He keeps his condition secret, injects himself with drugs, but calls off his marriage. It takes a certain boldness to make a love story in which venereal disease comes between the devoted couple; Mifune brings a febrile intensity to his role as the hero tormented by a desire he can’t risk fulfilling.
Geoffrey Macnab, Sight and Sound, November 2007

Director: Akira Kurosawa
Production Company: Daiei
Producers: Sojiro Motoki, Hisao Ichikawa
Screenplay: Senkichi Taniguchi, Akira Kurosawa
Based on the play by: Kazuo Kikuta
Photography: Shoichi Aisaka
Art Director: Koichi Imai
Music: Akira Ifukube

Toshiro Mifune (Kyoji Fujisaki)
Takashi Shimura (Konosuke Fujisaki)
Miki Sanjo (Misao Matsumoto)
Kenjiro Uemura (Susumu Nakada)
Chieko Nakakita (Takiko Nakada)
Noriko Sengoku (Rui Minegishi)
Isamu Yamaguchi

Japan 1949
95 mins

Stray Dog (Nora Inu)
Wed 1 Feb 20:35; Mon 13 Feb 18:10
Drunken Angel (Yoidore Tenshi)
Thu 2 Feb 18:20; Fri 10 Feb 20:40
The Silent Duel (Shizukanaru Kettô)
Thu 2 Feb 20:40; Sat 11 Feb 18:40
Sanshiro Sugata (Sugata Sanshirô)
Fri 3 Feb 18:20 (+ intro by Ian Haydn Smith, season co-curator); Sun 12 Feb 15:50
Sanshiro Sugata Part Two (Zoku Sugata Sanshirô)
Fri 3 Feb 20:45; Sun 12 Feb 18:20
The Gathering Storm: Kurosawa Study Day
Sat 4 Feb 12:00
Living (Ikiru)
Sat 4 Feb 17:50; Wed 15 Feb 20:15
Kurosawa and Shakespeare, Adaptation and Reinvention: An illustrated talk by Adrian Wootton
Sun 5 Feb 15:15
Sun 5 Feb 17:30 (+ intro by Adrian Wooton, CEO of Film London and film curator); Sat 11 Feb 11:50; Sat 25 Feb 17:20
I Live in Fear (Ikimono no Kiroku)
Mon 6 Feb 18:10; Mon 13 Feb 20:40
Dreams (Yume)
Wed 8 Feb 20:30; Sun 26 Feb 15:30
Red Beard (Akahige)
Sat 11 Feb 15:20 (+ intro by Ian Haydn Smith, season co-curator); Sun 26 Feb 17:25
Throne of Blood (Kumonosu-jô)
Sun 12 Feb 13:00; Fri 17 Feb 20:40; Tue 21 Feb 18:10
Dersu Uzala
Thu 16 Feb 18:10 (+ intro by Ian Haydn Smith, season co-curator); Mon 27 Feb 20:10 (+ intro by Doug Weir, BFI Technical Delivery Manager)
Yojimbo (Yôjinbô)
Sat 18 Feb 20:45; Thu 23 Feb 20:15 (+ intro by Asif Kapadia, season co-curator)
Rhapsody in August (Hachigatsu no Kyoshikoku)
Sun 19 Feb 18:30; Sat 25 Feb 12:40
Mon 20 Feb 20:20; Tue 28 Feb 18:00
Philosophical Screens: Throne of Blood
Tue 21 Feb 20:10
Wed 22 Feb 20:50; Sat 25 Feb 20:45
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