Drunken Angel

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Drunken Angel


Wednesday Oct 11 01:00 PM
Wednesday Oct 11 07:30 PM


Doris Duke Theatre


Museum members: $10.00
General Admission: $12.00


About the Film:

Part of Akira Kurosawa Retrospective

Directed by Akira Kurosawa. Japan. 1948. Japanese with English subtitles. 98 min.
Akira Kurosawa and Toshiro Mifune are one of cinema's great director-actor duos, and Mifune’s breakthrough performance in Drunken Angel is where it all starts. Mifune is Matsunaga, a consumptive yakuza who stumbles into the clinic of Doctor Sanada (Takashi Shimura, another Kurosawa mainstay) and asks for treatment. Sanada implores Matsunaga to stop drinking, but he himself is trapped in the cynicism that has overrun his Hippocratic optimism. The two soon find their lives in peril (and, in a way, become each other’s angels) when Matsunaga’s former gang boss is released from prison.

The Westernization brought about by Allied victory is prominent in Drunken Angel’s stylistic sensibilities. Its seedy yakuza underworld is influenced by American film noir, as is its expressionistic lighting and use of chiaroscuro. American influence also finds its way into the film in a more covert manner. U.S. censors in Japan forbade any mention of the ongoing occupation, but Kurosawa managed to slip in a few sly critiques. It’s hard not to think of the greenhorn Mifune, drawing from his own natural vigor and wartime experiences, as embodying the spirit of Italian neorealism.

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