The Bad Sleep Well

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The Bad Sleep Well (Warui yatsu hodo yoku nemuru) is a Japanese movie that was released in 1960. It was directed by the Japanese legend, Akira Kurosawa. Shortly before this movie was created, Kurosawa started his own production company. The Bad Sleep Well' was the first release out of the new production company, and Kurosawa had high hopes for it. He was not disappointed. The Bad Sleep Well has been heralded as one of Kurosawa’s best films. It has been said that The Bad Sleep Well is his unofficial take on Shakespeare’s Hamlet, which was rumored to be Kurosawa’s favorite movie.


The film starts during a wedding. The daughter of the head of a huge corporation known as Public Corp has just gotten marred. Her father, Iwabuchi, leads the building with a firm hand. The groom’s name is Nishi. He has married the daughter even though she is lame, most believe it is because he wants to rise up in the company to become the best. There are numerous jokes going around as to why he married his wife until the cake gets wheeled out. It is in the shape of their office building and there is an X on the cake. The X is strategically placed on the window where the former business partner killed himself.

The newspapers and reporters jump all over the story and it gets really interesting when certain prominent members of the corporation are investigated for embezzlement. The case winds up as a dead end until a few more of the partners end up committing suicide. Rumors start to fly around that the partners really killed themselves because they were pressured to. Wada, an executive for Public Corp, manages to not get killed and is, in a sense, rescued by Nishi and a man named Itakura.

Nishi takes Wada to his funeral, where Wada gets to watch his fellow partners seem to mourn over his casket. Nishi shows him that two of his partners, Moriyama and Shirai, were trying to plot his murder only a short time before. Wada comes up with the plan to pretend to be a ghost. He wants to scare the other business members. Nishi eventually explains that he saved Wada for his own selfish reasons. He has been trying to get revenge against Iwabuchi and Wada was a means for him to do so.

Misc Info

Many fans note not only the cinematography but the music in the movie as well. It flows into the movie so that it is hardly noticed at all, which is what makes for a perfect transition. The movie runs for 2 ½ hours and some fans of Kurosawa have noted that it seems to be too long for the story, as it tends to lag in certain places. On a whole, however, the movie is revered for being technically brilliant while having the bonus of being a great story. Some say that The Bad Sleep Well is really Kurosawa’s finest movie.

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