The Quiet Duel (1949)

A very affecting, emotional film revolving around a doctor (played by Toshiro Mifune) infected by syphilis from a patient during an accident, who then has to grapple with being contaminated with a near-incurable disease of the time.

I found the film utterly captivating. Frequent Kurosawa collaborates Toshiro Mifune and Takashi Shimura deliver great performances, especially Mifune, and the actresses for the nurses (Miki Sanjō and Noriko Sengoku) are also noticeably good performers. Kurosawa also continues his trend to the more cinematic, that has begun to pervade his films by this point, such as with his editing techniques becoming notably more refined.


The inner turmoil of Mifune’s character is painful and tragic. Two scenes stand out particularly for me in the movie. One, where Mifune and Shimura’s characters share a cigarette and have an affecting emotional exchange, and another where Mifune and Sengoku’s characters talk past each other, as he despairs over his lot in life, and she offers her own woes and a form of salvation for them both, but is rebuked.

The film explores shame, martyrdom, the conflict between conscience and desire, and the nature of the human body. I really enjoyed this one. I give it three and a half scalpels, and a stethoscope.


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