The Bad Sleep Well

The first film made by Akira Kurosawa’s own production company is a dark tale of greed, corporate corruption and revenge.

The Bad Sleep Well, the first film made by Kurosawa’s own, newly founded production company, was also the first over which he had complete control. He wanted to make ‘a movie of some social significance’ and decided to target the culture of corruption he saw pervading post-war Japanese society. This impressive tale of greed, corporate corruption and revenge is a powerful indictment of the dark side of business and politics with distinct overtones of Hamlet.

Koichi Nishi (Toshiro Mifune) is a grieving son seeking revenge for the ‘suicide’ of his father. By assuming a new identity he rises through the ranks of the Public Corporation and cynically marries the President’s daughter to better infiltrate the company and expose the corrupt practice that was responsible for his father’s death. However, as Koichi falls in love with his wife, disaster looms.

Kurosawa directed three adaptations from Shakespeare. Two were recreated as samurai movies: Macbeth became Throne of Blood (1957), and King Lear inspired his last major film, the epic Ran (1985). The Bad Sleep Well comes between the two and is the least-known. In addition to its contemporary setting it is the freest adaptation of the three.

Special features

The film was shot in glorious black and white Tohoscope and has previously only been available in a shortened international version. This, the original uncut version, is packaged with:

  • 8-page illustrated booklet with notes by film historian Philip Kemp.
  • extract from ‘Kurosawa on Kurosawa’ from Sight & Sound, Autumn 1964.

Product information

    • Certificate

      PG

    • Colour

      Black/white

    • Sound

      Sound

    • Running time

      144mins

    • Languages

      Japanese

    • Subtitles

      English

    • Original aspect ratio

      2.35:1

    • DVD region

      • 2 Europe (except Russia, Ukraine, and Belarus), Middle East, Egypt, Japan, South Africa, Swaziland, Lesotho, Greenland, French Overseas departments and territories

    • Blu-ray region

      • B - Includes most European and Middle-Eastern countries, all of Africa, Australia and New Zealand

    • Catalogue number

      BFIVD637

Buying options

Back to the top