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"The Lower Depths"
Directed by Akira Kurosawa/Jean Renoir
The Criterion Collection presents two dramatically different interpretations of Maxim Gorky's classic play by two cinematic visionaries. Akira Kurosawa's masterful reworking of The Lower Depths, Donzoko (1957, Japan, 125 minutes), uses foundations of Japanese Noh theatre and is set in Edo during the last Tokugawa period. A rare ensemble effect is achieved from the actors in this moving story of a group of destitute people living in a rooming house. "A fascinating work" (Time). Japanese with English subtitles. Jean Renoir's adaptation of The Lower Depths, Les Bas-fonds (1936, France, 85 minutes), is a feast for the eyes and intellect. Made amidst the rise of Nazism in Germany and the Popular Front in France, Renoir transforms the play to fit the times, offering the possibility of hope to the derelicts. French with English subtitles. 210 minutes.