Here I am in August, posting my shot of the month for June. I will readily admit I’ve been lazy, especially in this particular section of my blog. But I figured I’d get myself back on track with one of the most striking images from one of my favorite films of all-time: High and Low. Directed by Akira Kurosawa, High and Low is a morality piece with sharp turns, fantastic acting, and lush cinematography. One of the reasons I love this film is Kurosawa’s manipulation of pace and perspective. Each act feels like a movie unto itself, but Kurosawa’s themes and control turn it into a riveting masterpiece, a complete whole. The above image emanates from the film’s middle section, where the culprit of a devious crime watches the fruits of his labor from a distance. There’s an overwhelming dissonance in this image, as the film’s proposed villain peeks through an assortment of flora. The contrast of the flowers and the culprit’s overpowering sunglasses, an accessory that leaves us detached and cold, creates an uneasy feeling in the viewer’s gut. By placing the camera in front of the villain, Kurosawa also creates a nauseating voyeuristic image, an image that plays to one of our most basic of fears: is someone watching us? Worst of all, within the context of the film, we now know the villain and there’s nothing we can do to stop their plot.
Cinematographer(s): Asakazu Nakai, Takao Saitô
Director: Akira Kurosawa