Every now and then we like to watch a movie with some meat to it, and a story that needs telling. Yesterday we found a keeper: High and Low (1963), directed by Akira Kurosawa, starring Toshiro Mifune–and right there you know it’s gonna be great. Based on a classic police story by Ed McBain.
If you ever wondered why God treats envy as a sin, this film will clue you in. It’s all about the destructive power of envy. Mifune’s character overcomes his own darker side; the villain in the story, devoured by envy, can’t. And I wonder if I ought to warn you: this is powerful stuff.
There are some plot twists in here that’ll knock you for a loop, with another volcanic performance by Mifune, one of the world’s great film actors, and another great story by Kurosawa, one of the world’s great directors, who often lent a hand in writing his movies’ screenplays.
And never mind that it’s a Japanese movie! Kurosawa was great because he spoke to all of us; that’s why his movies never grow old. High and Low is set in modern times, but Kurosawa’s samurai epics touch all times and peoples.
So, yes, envy is a sin, and High and Low superbly teaches that. I don’t know whether Kurosawa was a Christian, although Mifune was (his parents were Methodist missionaries).
Envy is the mother’s milk of left-wing ideologies. That’s why they do so much damage. The bad guy in High and Low missed his calling as a 21st-century Democrat in America. He had to settle for being a kidnapper in 1963 Japan.