Saturday, November 1, 2008
|6:30 p.m.||Stray Dog|
Akira Kurosawa (Japan, 1949)
(Nora-inu). On a crowded bus in teeming Tokyo, rookie policeman Murakami (Toshiro Mifune) has his gun swiped. Fearful of losing his job—a cop without a job is a modern-day ronin—he embarks on a desperate search for the pickpocket. Murakami becomes a lone pilgrim in an underworld seething in the heat of summer and the crush of postwar shortages, rendered divinely hellish by Kurosawa’s odd-angled lensing and staccato editing. The policeman’s anxiety is heightened as reports come in of murders attributed to the stolen pistol; a simple theft becomes a case of murder-by-doppelgänger. Kurosawa has acknowledged his debt to Simenon, whose graying continental op Maigret is not resigned to the fact that the bad sleep well. But Stray Dog is typical of Kurosawa’s ability to mold genre to his own concerns. More than a hardboiled thriller, Stray Dog is a Dostoyevskian saga of guilt, and expiation, by association.
• Written by Ryuzo Kikushima, Kurosawa. Photographed by Asakuzu Nakai. With Toshiro Mifune, Takashi Shimura, Ko Kimura, Keiko Awaji. (122 mins, In Japanese with English subtitles, B&W, 35mm, Permission Janus Films/Criterion Collection)