Stray Dog

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Stray Dog (Akira Kurosawa, 1949)

Detective Murakami is an incredibly diverse role to play for Mifune. Unlike majority of his samurai roles in which he emerges the hero in the end, or, in many cases, he is the ever-confident and invincible hero from the beginning, here Mifune is the everyday novice, a young officer in his first week on the job. Kurosawa’s irony is apparent, when we realize that Murakami’s first real case in fact, partially caused by his own neglect. A street criminal steals Murakami’s colt revolver and goes on a killing spree. The relevance of the movie today lies in the psychology of Murakami, who feels guilty because it is his gun which is doing the killing, instead of realizing that the man holding the gun is really the one in charge, and the purpose of weapon relies solely on the psychology of its user. But this piece of socio-political debate is never touched on beyond mere mention, because Stray Dog is Kurosawa’s take on the Hollywood thriller… as the filmmaker himself said: “A lot of technique, a little substance.”

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