by Douglas Messerli
Hideo Oguni (screenplay, based on the drama by Maxim Gorky), Akira Kurosawa (director) どん底 (Donzoko) (The Lower Depths) / 1957
Watching Akira Kurosawa’s impressive 1957 film version of Maxim Gorky’s play The Lower Depths the other day, I was reminded of my first encounter with this drama on a filmed production of the play on TV, which I must have seen in the very late 1950s or, more likely, in the early 1960s. Yet, when I went to look it up on internet connections, I could find no sign of it, no matter where I looked. So much for the “golden age of TV,” which, of course, we know is long gone, but now is also evidently utterly forgotten.
I even wrote a Facebook note to my 3,000-some friends, asking for any confirmation of what surely cannot have been a made-up memory. I had never read the play and yet I remember it so fondly, despite its dark, dark themes and images. I suppose I might have loved any theatrical event, since in the eastern Iowa I had few other opportunities to explore the theater that I so very much loved.
Los Angeles, September 30, 2017