Akira Kurosawa’s Red Beard is a work of profound humanism, so much so that its titular character is generous enough to give center stage to those around him who really need it: the broken, the destitute, the disenchanted, and the dying. As overseer of everything in his medical facility in 19th century Edo (now Tokyo) for its impoverished citizens, the red-bearded Dr. KyojÅ Niide (ToshirÅ Mifune) observes what each inhabitant (staff and patients alike) requires to get better. Some need medication; others need meditation, as the past can weigh on the sick as much as present maladies. And a will to live–something that the poor could hardly fathom previously–can be more important for the less fortunate than fortuitous health. Although the events of the film undoubtedly revolve around Red Beard, it is his acquiescent disposition and charitable openness toward revolution (both narratively speaking and even in some ways subtly social) that give everyone else a chance to shine. These other characters–coming and going, improving and dying–are allotted a fair chance in the world for once; they are given liberty, which allows them to find some peace and comfort–true health, in any state.