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Drunken Angel (The Criterion Collection)
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Takashi Shimura (the head samurai in "Seven Samurai") plays an alcoholic doctor in a dumpy urban part of post-war Tokyo. Toshiro Mifune plays a small-time gangster who initially visits the doctor regarding a bullet wound. The doctor discovers that the gangster also has tuberculosis, and stubbornly tries to treat it. I say stubbornly because the gangster tries to act macho about the disease. The two charactors are both so strongly portrayed that the doctor's attempt to treat the disease and the gangster's faked but desperate non-chalance makes their relationship a struggle; at times they actually come to blows over the doctor's persistence. The doctor, I think, sees something of himself in the gangster; someone on the edge of society, someone with flaws, someone with unfulfilled dreams. The doctor wants the gangster to survive, and the gangster desperately wants to survive, but his "toughness" keeps him from admitting that he wants to live.
In any event, my wife and I fall in love with the doctor everytime that we see this film. He is the better angel of our nature, scolding and caring. Watch the film; you too will fall in love with it.
Drunken Angel is a contemporary tale of the squalor of postwar Japanese society, and of an angel shining his light through the darkness to help those few he can. This film introduces for the first time many themes, symbols, and ideas that recieve their consummate expression in Kurosawa's later films, such as Ikiru, and even beyond, and around which Kurosawa's entire body of work revolves.
We see in the gangster the first lead performance of Toshiro Mifune, one of the greatest actors ever to honor the cinema with his presence, and in the doctor the first truly great performance by Takashi Shimura, the most reliable and talented actor in the Kurosawa group. This role also helps to contribute in subtle ways to his greatest performance, that of Watanabe in Ikiru.
And of Kurosawa himself, what can I say, he has once again left me at a loss for words. The end fight sequence with the mirror and the paint is pure cinematic genius.
So this film is a definite must see, not only for fans of Kurosawa, but for the entire world. It has my highest recommendation.
This uneasy friendship, and the balance of the two characters as they get to know each other, is the strength of "Drunken Angel." Both performances are gripping. The plot involving a gang boss released from jail, allows the two characters to develop with each other. The direction is tight and controlled.
This is easily a masterpiece, from one of cinema's greatest directors.
Sanada, a rough-tongued drunk, is a doctor whose patients are as poor as the Tokyo slum they all live in. He tries as best he can to deal with tuberculosis, which is insidious and deadly. A 17-year-old schoolgirl just may survive because of him. When Matsunaga shows up at Sanada's tiny office with a bullet wound in his hand, Sanada fixes him up and immediately suspects Matsunaga has tuberculosis. That's not a good thing for a yakuza, especially a man like Matsunaga. "That girl who just left has more guts than you'll ever have," Sanada shouts at Matsunaga. "She's looking her illness straight in the eye. You don't have a fraction of her guts. You're still scared of the dark." It gets worse. Sanada eventually persuades Matsunaga to begin treatment. When Matsunaga's old gang boss, a vindictive and cruel man, gets out of prison and takes over again, Matsunaga is drawn back to his earlier choices. As Matsunaga's illness worsens, he's isolated and humiliated, yet the relationship deepens between the young, sick yakuza and the older, wiser doctor,
What does Sanada see in the tough, violent and frightened-of-death Matsunaga...a son there never was?...himself making mistakes when he was younger?...a vulnerable human being who, whatever his crimes and attitudes, requires help?...or just a man he might somehow convince to fight against the odds? "It's not just his lungs that are bad," says Sanada. "It's like he's sick to the core. He acts tough and swaggers around, but in his heart I know he's unbearably lonely.Read more ›
Most Recent Customer Reviews
Akira Kurosawa's marvelous 1948 social problem movie, Drunken Angel has to be seen for many reasons. Read morePublished 16 months ago by Film Buff
Film = barely three stars; restoration = 3-1/2 stars. Ignoring the background struggle that apparently went on with occupation censors two years into the occupation (circa 1947),... Read morePublished 19 months ago by William Flanigan
I'm not reviewing the movie here, just the dvd quality of the Mei Ah release for those that are interested ( it's blue, has Chinese script and a cheesy picture of a young Toshirô... Read morePublished 21 months ago by Bill
A great movie about a very interesting and believable character. If you like Japanese movies I'm sure you'll like this one too.Published on February 3, 2014 by Dominique Huffman
Drunken Angel is a film noir directed by the great Japanese auteur Akira Kurosawa. It tells the story of an alcoholic doctor in post WWII Tokyo who strikes up an unlikely... Read morePublished on December 2, 2013 by B. Adducchio
Great movie, I wasn't expecting much. Great writing and great scenery. I am not much of an b&w film watcher, so it was weird to see that some of the scenes were shot outdoorsPublished on November 28, 2013 by V.
A rather self-serving, cold hearted, alcoholic doctor gets bored with his dull life and decides to help a small time thief and hoodlum. Read morePublished on November 26, 2013 by Bartok Kinski
One of the best noir films. Gorgeous filmmaking. A period of Kurosawa's that is important to see--the early personal noir stories.Published on September 2, 2013 by Sova
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