Ashleigh Dryden

Written by Ashleigh Dryden

Modified & Updated: 01 Jun 2024

Jessica Corbett

Reviewed by Jessica Corbett

Source: High & Low

High and Low is a groundbreaking film directed by the legendary Akira Kurosawa. Released in 1963, this Japanese crime drama has become a classic in the world of cinema. Set in modern-day Yokohama, the film follows the gripping story of a kidnapping gone wrong and explores themes of morality, class divide, and the depths of human nature.

With its rich character development, intricate plot, and stunning cinematography, High and Low continues to captivate audiences, cementing its status as one of Kurosawa’s greatest works. In this article, we will delve into 34 fascinating facts about this iconic movie, ranging from behind-the-scenes trivia to its critical reception and impact on the film industry. So, grab some popcorn and get ready to dive into the world of High and Low!

Key Takeaways:

  • High and Low” is a 1963 Japanese crime drama film that explores social class, morality, and the psychological toll of crime and corruption. It showcases Kurosawa’s masterful direction and remains a timeless classic.
  • The film’s strong character development, morally complex narrative, and intense climax make it a must-watch for movie enthusiasts. Its themes of societal inequality and ethical dilemmas remain relevant today.
Table of Contents

High and Low is a 1963 Japanese crime drama film.

Directed by Akira Kurosawa, the movie was based on the novel “King’s Ransom” by Ed McBain.

The film explores the themes of social class and morality.

It delves into the stark contrast between the wealthy elites and the struggling lower class.

High and Low was a commercial success upon its release.

It was praised for its gripping narrative and thought-provoking storyline.

The main character, Gondo, is played by Toshiro Mifune.

Mifune’s powerful performance adds depth and intensity to the character.

The film’s original Japanese title is “Tengoku to Jigoku”.

It translates to “Heaven and Hell”, reflecting the moral dilemmas faced by the characters.

High and Low showcases Kurosawa’s masterful direction and visual storytelling.

The film is known for its meticulous framing and use of contrasts.

Kurosawa’s use of long takes adds to the suspenseful atmosphere of the film.

It keeps the audience engaged and on the edge of their seats.

High and Low received critical acclaim and won several awards.

The film earned Kurosawa a nomination for Best Director at the Venice Film Festival.

The movie explores the ethical choices faced by its characters.

It raises questions about the price of success and the value of human life.

High and Low showcases the stark realities of post-war Japan.

It provides a glimpse into the socioeconomic disparities and struggles of the time.

The film’s screenplay was co-written by Akira Kurosawa and Eijirô Hisaita.

Their collaboration brings depth and nuance to the story.

High and Low has been praised for its strong character development.

Each character is complex and multi-dimensional, adding layers to the narrative.

The film’s cinematography captures the essence of urban life in Japan.

The cityscape becomes a character in itself, reflecting the social issues portrayed.

High and Low is considered a classic of Japanese cinema.

It has influenced numerous filmmakers and continues to be studied and analyzed.

The movie explores the psychological toll of crime and corruption.

It delves into the motivations and inner struggles of the characters.

High and Low showcases Kurosawa’s signature use of weather symbolism.

The changing weather patterns mirror the emotional states of the characters.

The film’s pacing keeps the audience engaged from start to finish.

It balances suspenseful moments with quieter, reflective scenes.

High and Low presents a morally complex narrative.

It challenges the audience’s perceptions of right and wrong.

The movie features a meticulous recreation of 1960s Japan.

The attention to detail transports viewers to that specific time and place.

High and Low has been remade and reimagined in various forms.

It has inspired adaptations in different countries, showcasing its enduring appeal.

The film’s score, composed by Masaru Satô, enhances the tension and drama.

The music complements the visuals and elevates the overall viewing experience.

High and Low is often considered one of Kurosawa’s greatest achievements.

It showcases his mastery of storytelling and his ability to tackle complex themes.

The movie’s social commentary is still relevant today.

It highlights the enduring issues of societal inequality and ethical dilemmas.

High and Low was a departure from Kurosawa’s period samurai films.

It demonstrated his versatility as a filmmaker and his willingness to explore different genres.

The film’s opening scene sets the stage for the intense narrative that follows.

It immediately grabs the audience’s attention and sets the tone for the entire movie.

High and Low’s script underwent several revisions before filming began.

Kurosawa and Hisaita worked tirelessly to perfect the story and dialogue.

The film’s use of black and white cinematography adds a timeless quality.

It allows the audience to focus on the story and characters without distraction.

High and Low’s success solidified Kurosawa’s reputation as a master filmmaker.

It further established him as one of the greatest directors of all time.

The film’s climax is a tense and emotionally charged sequence.

It keeps viewers on the edge of their seats until the very end.

High and Low has been influential in the neo-noir genre.

Its themes and visual style have been emulated by filmmakers around the world.

The movie’s moral ambiguity leaves room for interpretation.

It prompts discussions and debates among viewers.

High and Low’s strong performances garnered critical acclaim.

The cast, led by Toshiro Mifune, delivers powerful and compelling portrayals.

The film’s intricate plot keeps audiences guessing until the very end.

It is filled with twists and turns that maintain suspense throughout.

High and Low remains a timeless classic that continues to captivate audiences.

Its themes, characters, and storytelling techniques make it a must-watch for cinephiles.


In conclusion, “High and Low” is a compelling movie that showcases the brilliance of renowned director Akira Kurosawa. With its gripping storyline, masterful direction, and exceptional performances, it has earned its place as one of the greatest thrillers in cinematic history. The film’s exploration of social class, morality, and the nature of justice brings depth and complexity to the narrative, leaving viewers on the edge of their seats from start to finish.Through its meticulous attention to detail, atmospheric cinematography, and intense pacing, “High and Low” keeps audiences captivated throughout its runtime. Kurosawa’s ability to seamlessly combine elements of suspense, drama, and social commentary elevates the film to a whole new level, allowing viewers to not only be entertained but also to reflect on the human condition.Whether you are a fan of classic cinema, a lover of thrillers, or simply someone looking for a thought-provoking movie experience, “High and Low” is a must-watch. Its timeless themes, compelling characters, and powerful storytelling continue to resonate with audiences even after decades since its release. Brace yourself for a rollercoaster of emotions as you dive into this cinematic masterpiece.


Q: Who directed “High and Low”?
A: “High and Low” was directed by the legendary Japanese filmmaker Akira Kurosawa. Known for his cinematic masterpieces such as “Seven Samurai” and “Rashomon,” Kurosawa is celebrated for his innovative storytelling techniques and profound exploration of human nature.Q: When was “High and Low” released?
A: “High and Low” was released on March 1, 1963, in Japan. It has since gained international acclaim and continues to be regarded as one of the finest examples of Japanese cinema.Q: What is the genre of “High and Low”?
A: “High and Low” is a suspenseful crime drama. It combines elements of detective story, thriller, and social commentary, making it a multi-layered and engaging viewing experience.Q: Is “High and Low” based on a novel?
A: Yes, “High and Low” is based on the novel “King’s Ransom” written by Ed McBain (Evan Hunter). Kurosawa adapted the story, set in New York City, to a Japanese context, adding his unique directorial style and cultural perspectives.Q: What language is “High and Low” in?
A: “High and Low” is in Japanese language. However, it is widely available with English subtitles, allowing non-Japanese speaking audiences to enjoy the film and appreciate its brilliance.Q: What are some other notable movies directed by Akira Kurosawa?
A: Akira Kurosawa has an extensive filmography, with several notable movies under his belt. Some of his other renowned works include “Rashomon,” “Seven Samurai,” “Yojimbo,” “Ikiru,” and “The Hidden Fortress.” Each film showcases Kurosawa’s distinct style and thematic exploration.

If you enjoyed learning about High and Low, why not explore more cinematic gems? Dive into the gritty world of crime drama with The Friends of Eddie Coyle, a masterful portrayal of loyalty and betrayal. For fans of legendary director Akira Kurosawa, our fascinating facts about Yojimbo offer a glimpse into his groundbreaking storytelling techniques. Lastly, immerse yourself in the shadowy realm of film noir by discovering the intriguing details surrounding a captivating Film Noir Festival.

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