Murukami, a young homicide detective, has his pocket picked on a bus and loses his pistol. Frantic and ashamed, he dashes about trying to recover the weapon without success until taken under the wing of an older and wiser detective, Sato. Together they track the culprit.Written by
Jim Beaver <email@example.com>
Akira Kurosawa: [weather] The symbolic usage of weather in this movie is evident in its depiction of Japan under a sunny heatwave, making some characters anticipate the rain. The sunny weather morphs into a dark gray, cloudy sky pattern in the scene where Murakami has a feeling that something bad will happen. Near the end of the movie, when the plot starts heavily escalating, the skies unleash a big downpour. See more »
At one point, there is a man playing a tune on a harmonica that needs two people with harmonicas to play. See more »
The following year, 1950, would see Kurosawa achieve his first major international success with the masterpiece Rashomon. Here, Kurosawa doesn't quite have the sureness of touch which would characterize most of his career, but Stray Dog is nevertheless a fine film noir and an effective exploration of Kurosawa's ideas about postwar Japan in particular and the human condition in general.
As you might expect from such a genius, Kurosawa is not satisfied with a simple good-guys/bad-guys cops-and-robbers story. He explores in depth the social and economic conditions in postwar Japan which led many young people--particularly returning veterans--to take to crime, and also the particular circumstances which motivate the acts of Yusa (Isao Kimura), the criminal. Indeed, a series of mistakes by the hero, rookie detective Murakami (Toshiro Mifune), are one factor behind Yusa's crimes.
But neither is Stray Dog a facile blame-society message film, either. Kurosawa makes no excuses for Yusa. By giving Murakami a very similar history (so similar, in fact, that it comes off as a little contrived), Kurosawa makes the point that Yusa had the same choice as Murakami. That he chose differently is his responsibility.
But even more interesting to me is the character of chief detective Sato (Takashi Shimura), Murakami's superior officer, mentor, and friend.
Sato is the wise elder figure in this film, and in the hands of a lesser artist than Kurosawa, such a character generally ends up as a mouthpiece for the director's own viewpoint. Here, though, Kurosawa permits Sato to espouse a hardcore law-and-order philosophy: The cops are the good guys, the crooks are the bad guys, and that's it. Sato has no patience for Murakami's guilt feelings or touchy-feely philosophizing.
That Kurosawa would permit this view (which is not Kurosawa's view, nor the film's) to be given voice by the film's wisest, kindest, most competent, and most likable character is a mark of his confidence and courage.
43 of 50 people found this review helpful.
Was this review helpful to you?
| Report this