Set in the era before Japan opened to the world, Mifune plays the head doctor of a clinic that serves the poor. He is tough and uncompromsing in his approach to medicine and dealing with those in power. Those who fear and respect him call him 'Red Beard.'
The movie deftly intertwines the stories of the lives of various doctors, nurses, patients, and those living in the shadows of the clinic, townsmen, merchants, prostitutes, and gangsters. "Red Beard" provides a look at what life must have been like in early 19th century Japan.
Yes it had no clear point...but does life? Kurosawa did a good job of showing the lives of the poor in and around a medical clinic in early 19th century Japan. I don't know that he was trying to make a point, but to show the lives of the doctors who dedicated their lives to the poor. A beautiful film.