Stray Dog

Stray Dog

Downloadable Video - 1949
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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.
Publisher: [Japan]: , Films sans frontières (Firm) [distridutor], , [1949]
Copyright Date: ©1949
Characteristics: 1 online resource (1 video file (2 hr. 2 min. 4 sec.)) : sound, color
Alternative Title: Also released as: Nora Inu

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b
budjp
Oct 09, 2018

STRAY DOG -- 1949 (Japan) Directed by Akira Kurosawa Jan 11, 2012

Kurusawa wrote the story for this film as a novel, then transformed it into a script, which, like all scripts at the time, had to be approved by the US occupation authorities.

Returning soldiers in Japan were regarded with increasing contempt and shame as the atrocities the army committed became known. Also the firebombing of Tokyo had targeted the most densely inhabited residential district: killing 100,000 people. Kurosawa cannot show that devastation but he does show us in the long Murakami wandering sequence –– and in the entire movie––the effects of the war on Japan: the prostitution, homelessness, dilapidated housing, like Yusa’s shack. Thousands starved to death right after war, the economy not recovering until the mid-1950s.

This is the first Kurosawa film to show his mastery of the art. With it, he began working with a technical team: the composer of music and sound tracks, cinematographer, set designer, and so on. This is also the third Kurosawa film for Mifune and the eighth for Shimura, who was 15 years older than Mifune and 5 years older than Kurosawa, who regarded him as an uncle.

Kurosawa was a fan of both Georges Simenon, whose influence is seen in the fact that we never see a crime committed, just the pursuit (procedural, physical, and psychological) and Dostoyevsky, who used trauma as a catalyst for change in his characters, which Kurosawa often does. It is part of his belief that we are all the same, but decisions precipitated by trauma distinguish us one from the other.

This is seen in the parallel Kurosawa draws between Murakami (Mifune) and Yusa:
They both had their knapsacks stolen––an experience that binds them––but how
they react to the theft determines their fate.

Their identities are also tied to the pistol––or at least so they obsessively believe.
Murakami because with few guns in occupied Japan, police are privileged
by being allowed to carry them; he fails in his responsibility. Yusa because it will help him, he feels, get the clothes and buy the gifts he needs to win the affection of Harumi, his love since their school days.

Both are stray dogs, as detective Sato (Takashi Shimura) says––able to focus only on one thing, straight ahead of them. Marukami loses control in the hospital; Yusa, in the same way, at the end.

h
humphrey162
Jan 03, 2014

Kurosawa teams up with Mifune and Shimura to deliver a fantastic noir thriller that also works as a great record of postwar Japan.

z
zerfer
Apr 22, 2012

He did cop shows in a way more like today's shows rather than US cop shows.

n
NobleSix
Jun 07, 2011

Kurosawa amazes us once again.

His movies are awesome.

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